If you had to give up one of your senses, which one and why?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I was listening to a podcast recently and one of the questions that briefly touched on was which of the senses you would give up if you had to.

According to https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/superpowers-for-the-blind-and-deaf/ if one of the senses is withdrawn e.g. someone who had sight goes blind, the brain doesn’t just learn to use the other senses better, but actually adapts and by rewiring and processes the other senses differently.  A study they cite showed people born deaf use areas of the brain typically used to process sound to process touch and vision instead.  This phenomenon is call cross-modal neuroplasticity. For those who lose their sight it seems the visual cortex is taken over by other senses such as sound and touch to help process language. About 285 million people are visually impaired by other senses usually compensate.

What if we woke up one day without a sense of taste?  Some people have experienced this as a symptom of Covid, and when we get colds or flu we often loose our sense of taste.  Our sense of taste is closely linked to smell with about 80% of our taste sensation provided by the sense of smell, so maybe that’s not such a bad sense to lose.

If we lost the sense of smell we wouldn’t be able to taste food, but would also not be able to smell things that are dangerous, like a gas leak or fire, or a food stuff gone off. 

Can we truly lose the sense of touch?  According to https://insh.world/science/what-if-we-lost-our-senses-one-after-the-other/ we start to lose touch sense as we get older but nerve damage or medical conditions can contribute.  If we lost this sense we wouldn’t be able to feel the touch of a loved one, or have any sense of harming our body, but it would also mean that we wouldn’t be able to walk properly without a sense of touching the ground.

What if you lost all senses?  Total sensory deprivation would cause hallucinations so it would be like forever being in a dream state and have a detrimental impact on psychological health. 

As a bell ringer, losing hearing would be difficult, but not impossible as we can use the visual clues of where to place the bell.  There are blind ringers who have a “sense” of where the rope falls and when to catch it.  If bell ringers lost touch it would make physically ringing a bell difficult as we all worry, particularly when we first learn to ring, about letting go of the tail end. Losing a sense of taste wouldn’t be an issue, and losing the sense of smell may be beneficial in some places where there is inadequate ventilation!

I think of all the sense to lose taste is probably the easiest one to live with if I had to, although I do like food.  What about you?

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