NOW HEAR THIS!
This tickling does not lead to spastic body movements and laughter. It’s Ear tickling.
Researchers ‘tickled’ participants’ ears with a tiny electric current to influence the nervous system and slow down some of the effects of aging.
Oops, wrong kind of tickle
It is a painless procedure where custom-made clip electrodes are placed on a part of the ear called the tragus. The therapy, known as transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation, sends tiny currents of electricity into the ear that travel down to the body’s nervous system. There’s no pain, just a slight tingling which is referred to as “tickling”.
Here’s how it works:
The autonomic nervous system controls bodily functions that don’t require thought, such as breathing, digestion, heart rate and blood pressure.
Within the autonomic nervous system, there are two branches: parasympathetic (for resting activity) and sympathetic (for stress activity). The two branches work together to allow healthy levels of bodily activity.
The balance changes as people age, and the sympathetic branch can start to dominate. That domination can create an unhealthy imbalance in the automatic nervous system.
As a result, it can leave the body more vulnerable to other diseases and deterioration of bodily functions.
Researchers hoped the therapy would improve the balance of
the autonomic nervous system.
After 15 minutes of daily therapy for two weeks, they brought the participants – 26 people over the age of 55 back into the lab and measured factors such as heart rate and blood pressure to judge the success rate of their trial.
They found that tickling helped re-balance the body’s autonomic nervous system.
There were improvements in self-reported tension, depression, mood disturbances and sleep.
The researchers believe that the therapy could be used to reduce the risk of age-related chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation.
The next step is to take the study to a larger group to get a more comprehensive look at the benefits of tickle therapy.
Are you up for a tickle?
Susan Deuchars, lead author on the study and director of research at the University of Leeds’ School of Biomedical Sciences
For more on the other kind of tickle, click here for Tickle
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