Why are tickles ticklish?

Professor Hallux investigates!

Some people love them and others hate them but what makes tickles ticklish?

Because areas that are ticklish are often the vulnerable soft areas on our bodies, some scientists think tickling is a safe way for adults to teach their young to react to attack.

Click here for more from Hallux!

As you might know, it’s fairly common to cry out and even lash out when someone’s tickling you!

This explains why you can’t tickle yourself… Your body knows that you aren’t a threat to yourself and so it doesn’t need to react.

Although it can look like the ticklee is laughing, that response isn’t the same as laughing at a funny joke – it’s triggered by a process called the Rolandic operculum – it basically means that the person can’t help it!

Some people even believe it might be linked to fear!

You can hear Hallux’s More Physiology Fix-Up weekdays from 6pm on Fun Kids!

Professor Hallux: The Human Body Podcast for Kids

Learn about the human body in this podcast - from brains and bones to ears and eyes!


Professor Hallux’s More Physiology Fix-Up, with support from The Physiological Society!

Add a comment