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Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind
Linden, David J.
Penguin Books / Softcover / 2016-01-01 / 0143128442
price: $22.00 (may be subject to change)
272 pages
Not in stock - ships in one week.

The New York Times–bestselling author of The Compass of Pleasure examines how our sense of touch is interconnected with our emotions

Dual-function receptors in our skin make mint feel cool and chili peppers hot. Without the brain’s dedicated centers for emotional touch, an orgasm would feel more like a sneeze—convulsive, but not especially nice. From skin to nerves to brain, the organization of our body’s touch circuits is a complex and often counterintuitive system that affects everything from our social interactions to our general health and development.

In Touch, neuroscientist and bestselling author David J. Linden explores this critical interface between our bodies and the outside world, between ourselves and others. Along the way, he answers such questions as: Why do women have more refined detection with their fingertips than men? Is there a biological basis for the use of acupuncture to relieve pain? How do drugs like Ecstasy heighten and motivate sensual touch? Why can’t we tickle ourselves? Linking biology and behavioral science, Touch offers an entertaining and enlightening answer to how we feel in every sense of the word.


“[Linden is] an able guide to the world of touch, with a true gift for simplifying the complex. (The illustrations and diagrams throughout the book help, too.) The book is packed with cocktail-party trivia—scientists believe that touch is the first sense to develop in utero; some people with schizophrenia can tickle themselves—and satisfying explanations of everyday tactile experiences.”
—Emily Anthes, The Washington Post

“With a novelist’s flair for anecdote, Linden unpacks the science behind touch by revealing how the sense informs and motivates us in everyday situations.”
—Bob Grant, The Scientist

“A book for the non-expert on the neuroscience of touch is very welcome, and I recommend this one enthusiastically. It's full of facts and explanations, many of which are totally cool and, some, even astonishing . . . . But what endears me to the book is not its clarity and its informativeness. What I love is its openness, and occasional insightfulness, about all the things we don't know.”
—Alva Noë,’s 13.7: Cosmos & Culture blog

“Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind, is a treasure trove for anyone wanting to decode the frisson of a lover’s caress. After all, the skin, says Linden, is a social organ.”
—Cat Auer, Playboy

“The best science writers infect you with their fascination for the subject—that’s exactly what Linden achieves here.”
—Christian Jarrett, BBC Focus

“This book is about the sense of touch, it’s by a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and it’s excellent. It will tell you why footballers hug each other when a goal is scored, why they are like vampire bats in this respect, and why some people like being the recipients of anal sex while others don’t. David Linden tells us all of this with exactly the right degree of scientific dryness.”
—William Leith, The Spectator (UK)

“Linden explores touch in depth, from itches to orgasms . . . and it makes for compelling reading.”
—Orlando Bird, Financial Times

“Being out of touch, the American neuroscientist David J Linden argues in his absorbing book, is not just something that happens to cabinet ministers . . . The human brain contains 500 billion nerve cells and does not give up its secrets lightly. But following Linden’s thread is profoundly worth it.”
—Oliver Moody, The Times (London)

“An engrossing book . . . This book has changed my own life in a small but significant way. My family joke that I’m the woman who put the ‘sal’ into ‘salad’ as I’ve spent my life grazing on uncooked veg. I now gulp down hot soup and feel the better for it. Thank you, David Linden.”
—Salley Vickers, The Guardian

“David J. Linden’s Touch is a charming read that explains the science of touch in easily understandable terms. Anyone who is interested in human interactions and emotional connections will find this book interesting. Just as important, men and women who deal with intimacy disorders – including love and sex addiction—are likely to find this book enlightening from a disease and recovery standpoint.”
—Scott Brassart,

“The Johns Hopkins neuroscientist leads us on a delightful tour of the science of touch, sharing discoveries that shed new light on this highly under-appreciated sense.”
—Jill Suttie, Greater Good

“If you’re interested in the mechanics of your mind or you want to know why you itch and what you have in common with koalas, read this and you won’t be disappointed. Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind is a book to get your fingers on.”
— Terri Schlichenmeyer, Rockdale Citizen

“The book is highly readable and laced with stories that are fascinating, funny and surprising!”
—Viviane Crystal, The Best Reviews

“Though the author includes a host of entertaining anecdotes, his narrative is consistently backed by solid science. So surpassing does Linden make touch seem that even turning the pages of his book becomes a pleasurable experience.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Why does sexual touch feel good? What is the difference between being touched on one’s palm or
shoulder? Of all the senses, touch is by far the most underrated, according to Johns Hopkins neuroscience professor Linden (The Compass of Pleasure, 2011) . . . .This in-depth, awareness-raising discussion of the effects of touch from head to toe and back again sheds light on a fascinating yet overlooked topic.”
—Donna Chavez, Booklist

“The sensation of touch, so ubiquitous in how we interact with our world, gets a sensualist pop-biology treatment from Linden (The Compass of Pleasure), a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine… Though it’s not exactly a neurobiology primer, Linden sandwiches a surprising amount of anatomical information between the stories of bad hand jobs and children who die young because they can’t feel pain.”
—Publishers Weekly

From the Hardcover edition.

“Touch will make you think more deeply about every itch, scrape and caress.”

—Washington Post

“The sensation of touch, so ubiquitous in how we interact with our world, gets a sensualist pop-biology treatment…. His exploration of the relationship between the things we feel with our fingertips and those we feel in our hearts begins with social touch and its lasting effects on babies and rats. Linden covers the basics of tactile receptor types and sensory maps before diving into several chapters—all appropriately science-based, yet somehow slightly lurid and intimate—on caresses, sexual arousal, and orgasm…. Linden sandwiches a surprising amount of anatomical information between the stories of bad hand jobs and children who die young because they can’t feel pain.”

—Publishers Weekly

About the Author:

David J. Linden is a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The author of The Accidental Mind (2007) and The Compass of Pleasure (2011), he served for many years as the chief editor of The Journal of Neurophysiology. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his two children.

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