Smaller Fingers Give Women Better Sense of Touch

WEDNESDAY Dec. 16, 2009 -- Got small fingers? Consider yourself fortunate in at least one way: You probably have a finer sense of touch, according to a new study.

The finding explains why women tend to have more tactile acuity, researchers say in the Dec. 16 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. The reason is simple: They have smaller fingers on average.

"Neuroscientists have long known that some people have a better sense of touch than others, but the reasons for this difference have been mysterious," study co-author Daniel Goldreich, of McMaster University in Ontario, said in a news release from the Society for Neuroscience. "Our discovery reveals that one important factor in the sense of touch is finger size."

The researchers measured the size of the index fingertip in 100 college students and then measured their tactile acuity using a test that's the tactile equivalent of an eye chart. Those with smaller fingers could sense more through touch, they found.

"The difference between the sexes appears to be entirely due to the relative size of the person's fingertips," Dr. Ethan Lerner of Massachusetts General Hospital, who is familiar with the study findings, said in the news release. "So, a man with fingertips that are smaller than a woman's will be more sensitive to touch than the woman."

More information

The University of Washington Neuroscience for Kids site has more about the sense of touch.

Posted: December 2009


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