MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Why do we feel food

Date: Thu May 16 22:40:24 2002
Posted By: Mike Conrad, Post-doc/Fellow, Microbiology, UNC
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 1018345847.Gb

When you swallow something that is too hot or cold, some people feel it down 
the front of their bodies and others feel it down their backs.  Why is this?

I'm not an anatomist, but when something is swallowed it goes down the 
esophagus and you can feel it go down.  The feelings of front or back are 
very subjective and may depend upon what you've just been doing or where 
your attention is at that moment.  

Also, note that the localization of sensations inside the body is not that 
well defined.  With your hands for example, as you grow up touching things, 
you figure out where the sensations are.  But with internal organs, there is 
none of this training.  For example, heart attacks are often felt as 
indigestion or other pains in the torso.  Appendicitis is sometimes felt 
higher up, or in other places where the appendix isn't.  Similarly, the 
sensations from swallowing can vary from person to person.  But no 
particular way should be thought of as "correct", it's just the way it 
turned out for that person.  Mike Conrad

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