Humans Have a Lot More Than Five Senses


Today I found out humans have a lot more than five senses.  It turns out, there are at least nine senses and most researchers think there are more like twenty-one or so. Just for reference, the commonly held definition of a “sense” is “any system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that respond to a specific physical phenomenon and that corresponds to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted.”

The commonly held human senses are as follows:

  • Sight:  This technically is two senses given the two distinct types of receptors present, one for color (cones) and one for brightness (rods).
  • Taste:  This is sometimes argued to be five senses by itself due to the differing types of taste receptors (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami), but generally is just referred to as one sense.  For those who don’t know, umami receptors detect the amino acid glutamate, which is a taste generally found in meat and some artificial flavoring.  The taste sense, unlike sight, is a sense based off of a chemical reaction
  • Touch:  This has been found to be distinct from pressure, temperature, pain, and even itch sensors.
  • Pressure: Obvious sense is obvious. 😉
  • Itch:  Surprisingly, this is a distinct sensor system from other touch-related senses.
  • Thermoception:  Ability to sense heat and cold.  This also is thought of as more than one sense.  This is not just because of the two hot/cold receptors, but also because there is a completely different type of thermoceptor, in terms of the mechanism for detection, in the brain.  These thermoceptors in the brain are used for monitoring internal body temperature.
  • Sound:  Detecting vibrations along some medium, such as air or water that is in contact with your ear drums.
  • Smell:  Yet another of the sensors that work off of a chemical reaction.  This sense combines with taste to produce flavors.
  • Proprioception:  This sense gives you the ability to tell where your body parts are, relative to other body parts.  This sense is one of the things police officers test when they pull over someone who they think is driving drunk.  The “close your eyes and touch your nose” test is testing this sense.  This sense is used all the time in little ways, such as when you scratch an itch on your foot, but never once look at your foot to see where your hand is relative to your foot.
  • Tension Sensors:  These are found in such places as your muscles and allow the brain the ability to monitor muscle tension.
  • Nociception:  In a word, pain.  This was once thought to simply be the result of overloading other senses, such as “touch”, but this has been found not to be the case and instead, it is its own unique sensory system.  There are three distinct types of pain receptors: cutaneous (skin), somatic (bones and joints), and visceral (body organs).
  • Equilibrioception:   The sense that allows you to keep your balance and sense body movement in terms of acceleration and directional changes.  This sense also allows for perceiving gravity.  The sensory system for this is found in your inner ears and is called the vestibular labyrinthine system.  Anyone who’s ever had this sense go out on them on occasion knows how important this is.  When it’s not working or malfunctioning, you literally can’t tell up from down and moving from one location to another without aid is nearly impossible.
  • Stretch Receptors:  These are found in such places as the lungs, bladder, stomach, and the gastrointestinal tract.  A type of stretch receptor, that senses dilation of blood vessels, is also often involved in headaches.
  • Chemoreceptors:  These trigger an area of the medulla in the brain that is involved in detecting blood born hormones and drugs.  It also is involved in the vomiting reflex.
  • Thirst:  This system more or less allows your body to monitor its hydration level and so your body knows when it should tell you to drink.
  • Hunger:  This system allows your body to detect when you need to eat something.
  • Magnetoception:  This is the ability to detect magnetic fields, which is principally useful in providing a sense of direction when detecting the Earth’s magnetic field.  Unlike most birds, humans do not have a strong magentoception, however, experiments have demonstrated that we do tend to have some sense of magnetic fields.  The mechanism for this is not completely understood; it is theorized that this has something to do with deposits of ferric iron in our noses.  This would make sense if that is correct as humans who are given magnetic implants have been shown to have a much stronger magnetoception than humans without.
  • Time:  This one is debated as no singular mechanism has been found that allows people to perceive time.  However, experimental data has conclusively shown humans have a startling accurate sense of time, particularly when younger. The mechanism we use for this seems to be a distributed system involving the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and basal ganglia.  Long term time keeping seems to be monitored by the suprachiasmatic nuclei (responsible for the circadian rhythm).  Short term time keeping is handled by other cell systems.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Facts:

  • The traditional “five senses” model (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) is credited to Aristotle
  • One such method for testing whether humans have magnetoception is by placing a strong magnetic field near a person and then disorienting them.  Results have shown that people in this scenario perform significantly worse at being able to re-orient themselves in terms of the cardinal points than people who are not near a strong magnetic field.  More conclusive evidence has been demonstrated by examining subject’s brains when magnetic fields are produced near a person.  It has been shown that these magnetic fields will evoke a response in the brain’s activity.
  • Numerous experiments have demonstrated that people do have the ability to detect accurately the passage of time.  One experiment showed that, without consciously counting or anything of the like, a group of 19 to 24 year olds were able, on average, to tell when 3 minutes was up within a 3 second margin of error.  Interestingly, the age group of 60-80 tended to average perceiving 3 minutes pass at around 3 minutes and 40 seconds consistently within the test group.  This would seem to indicate whatever mechanism we use to sense time slows as we age and thus as we get older time seems to pass faster to us.
  • People with Parkinson’s disease and ADD have severely impaired sense of time passage compared to “normal” people.
  • The vestibular labyrinthine system (equilibrioception) works by sensing the motion of fluid in three canals in your inner ear, as well as sensing the weight of small crystals of calcium carbonite on tiny hair-like sensory receptors.
  • Proprioception (sense of relative position of body parts) comes from the Latin “proprius”, meaning “one’s own”.
  • There exists a type of bacteria, called magnetotactic bacteria, that build magnets inside themselves in order to orient themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field.  They also migrate and form chains of themselves along magnetic field lines.
  • Many avian life forms posses a region of their bodies that contain a biological magnetite, generally in their beaks.  It is believed this gives them a strong magnetoception and thus allows them to sense direction accurately.  More recently, it has been shown that certain birds have the ability to see magnetic fields.  How this works is the Earth’s magnetic field effects how long a certain molecule, cryptochrome, in their photoreceptor cells stays in the active state.  This then affects the light sensitivity of the bird’s retinal neurons.  The net effect is the birds can perceive magnetic fields with their eyes.   The biological magnate and ability to perceive magnetic fields with their eyes are thought to combine to form a very accurate mapping and directional system in the birds.
  • Sharks, stringrays, and chimeara all possess an electroreceptive organ called an ampullae of Lorenzini.  This organ gives them the ability to detect even small variations in electric potential.  They can use this to detect magnetic fields, among other things.
  • Cattle tend to align themselves north-south, which leads some researchers to believe they have a strong magnetoception sense.
  • Some people experience something called synesthesia where they may perceive some sound and think of it as a color.  So a dog barking may be “red” to them or the like.  This condition does not generally occur naturally, though it can; it usually manifests itself when people are under the influence of hallucinogens.
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  • How about “common” sense? A “sense of humor”? Haha j/k

  • “One experiment showed that, without consciously counting or anything of the like, a group of 19 to 24 year olds were able, on average, to tell when 3 minutes was up within a 3 second margin of error.”

    Actually, in this experiment, the participants were explicitly told to consciously count the seconds using a “1, 1000, 2, 1000, …” technique.


  • Pitch. Absolute or relative to some degree.

  • Dear Author,

    This is a very informative article, although the last bullet has some information that is missing. In fact, synesthesia occurs naturally quite commonly, although it is also caused TEMPORARILY by hallucinogenic drugs. Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which the “wiring” for two or more senses are crossed in the brain. The most common forms are grapheme-color (letters and numbers have assigned colors)and sound-color (specific sounds have specific colors). The secondary sense (the one triggered by the primary sense modality) stays constant: if sugar smells purple, then it will always smell purple, and it will not change. Most synesthetes, because of their experiences, tend to be more creative, and often pursue artistic careers.

    No one knows for sure why synesthesia occurs, and no one knows solidly how much of the population is “afflicted” with this condition. It is normally estimated that one in every twenty people will have some form of synesthesia. Several theories exist to explain why synesthesia occurs, but none have been proven. Some say that everyone has synesthesia as infants, and as the synapses form, the wiring that connects all of the senses shrivel up and die. Synesthetes may be the result of when these wirings stay intact. Again, no one knows for sure, but this theory is the one most looked at for now.

    I know for a fact that synesthesia is hereditary, often passed down from parents to children, though it can skip generations, and this has been proven through studies of synesthetic families. I myself inherited this from my mother. However, it is rare that the offspring will share the same form(s) of synesthesia as the person they inherited it from. My mother has the rare mixing of all five senses, while I have all senses-color synesthesia.

    I hope you update this otherwise well-written article with this information. It will be of better use this way to suspected synesthetes and better educate the general public. Thank you for your time.


    • Good comment, Emma, and good article, David.
      I personally have always associated numbers with colours. Although this could be attributed to programming with Windows from a young age (which assigned common colours to numbers 0-15), the mapping is not identical. For example, the number 3 seems red to me, and the number 4 seems green.

      I have also experienced synesthesia at other times, both with and without the influence of hallucinogens.
      I have a theory, which, although it would not work for my number-colour thing, may yet be valid. Our brains measure a range of frequencies for each sense, and sometimes map a value from one range onto another. For example, a bass sound converts to red, as these are low-frequency (within the sensed range), and a high-pitched sound to blue, which is high frequency.

      • 3 is more of a green to me

        • …and everyone knows that 4s are red… aren’ t they? No?

          • Lol!! Yes, 4 is red. 3 is lime green. 2 can be a couple of colors – usually a shade of yellow.

            I also associate 2 with royalty. (Idk why..) 5 is red-maroon and is like a knight. 6 is blue, any shade of blue. 7 is usually grass green.

            The bass sound is usually brown, and may vary in shade according to pitch. The deeper the sound, the darker. Sometimes may be reddish-brown.

            Letters have different colors too.

            I never knew there was a name for this until a short time ago. My sister does this too. It’s a form of association for me. A learning tool for memory. It started in elementary school when learning reading and math.

    • That must be a Divergent! But I know people who sometimes crosses their senses or even confuse when drinking coffee at the wrong glass. They are creative, true.

  • What allows humans to sense the distance of other things, an external proprioception?

    • Daven Hiskey

      @John: besides just through experience in terms of judging things size vs their apparent size due to how far they are away, your brain also uses the apparent difference in angle it’s observing between your two eyes to judge how far away it is (parallax). People who are blind or mostly blind in one eye don’t get this differential so they must judge primarily by experience. For daily life this isn’t too hard, once you’ve developed enough experience at it. I for one have been nearly blind in my left eye most of my life, though my right has exceptional vision (20/10). I have no problem with depth perception except in extreme cases like catching a pop up (baseball) coming down with a clear blue sky backdrop. In that situation, I’d say my depth perception is off by a good 20-30 feet, meaning I can tell within about that scale how far away it is, but beyond that it could be 5 feet away or 30, I can’t tell at all, making me a horrible outfielder ;-). If, however, there is a nice cloud cover as a reference point, I have non such issue and can catch it fine. Basically, as long as I have any sort of backdrop reference point for whatever, I can judge the depth fine, even for hitting a baseball, but otherwise not. Luckily, the world is full of backdrops. 🙂 In any event, for most people, parallax plays a large role in depth perception, which is why people who have good eye sight in both eyes often struggle initially with depth perception when they lose their sight in one eye. Obviously though when you see a truck 100 yards away, your brain doesn’t need parallax to tell about how far away it is, just because of its apparent size vs what your brain thinks the size of the particular model of truck should be.

  • What about that sense of pain, when someone fall in love with someone.

  • It’s spelled “magnetoception” (or magnetoreception, if you must).

  • Those of us who practice Tai Chi learn to sense Chi flowing through our body and how to control that flow. Which sense is being developed here?

    • The “chi” that practitioners of Tai Chi focus on isn’t really any kind of mystical energy. It’s thanks to a combination of proprioception, tension sensors, and equilibrioception that you can sense your muscles and joints move as you practice and concentrate.

  • Kevin Ross: “Chi” cannot be sensed, and does not actually exist, so it’s not a sense.

    • Atarii: Chi is just another word for bioelctricity. If there is a sense here it would be similar to feeling blood flow in your veins.

  • What about the sense of being filmed? being watched?

    • Cue chill down the spine!! Creepy!!!!!

      • dalinton tobierre

        What about the sense of being filmed? being watched?

        • I react, erratically looking for a place to hide like a cornered rat. Incapable of producing coherency until I’m certain the intrusive eyes have gone away, and still I’m left scarred by the experience. I’m immensely triggered by that..

          Although if prearranged with my consent no problem.

    • That’s hypersensitivity, in overdrive. Fight or flight at the ready, adrenaline ready to flow.

  • Synesthesia can also be temporarily induced by some migraines, at least for some sufferers.

    What about the sense that an object is nearby; with someone’s eyes closed or for someone who is blind who can feel an object ahead of them before they run into it? Are they sensing air flow; a form of touch? Or something else?

    • I think that would be a combination of senses…

      If you already knew where someone was when you closed your eyes, and then they moved you would hear them and know where they moved to.

      If someone sneaked up on you from behind, and you knew they were there, you would have either felt the air move when they approached and/or feel their body heat

      Or smell them

      Human bodies produce a weak electromagnetic field, if away from other sources of electromagnetism, the only magnetic fields to sense would be the planet’s, your own, and those of others. Since there’s no interference, it would be easier to sense the change in magnetic fields caused when a person moves

      But that’s just my hypothesis

    • The visual signal from your eyes goes through the entire brain before it is processed. Multiple of these sections can interpret this, resulting in the blind’s ability to sense things in front of them.

  • Great page! How about a sense of daylight & the sun? And one of music? And sensing dryness in stale air?

    • I want all my senses to be of music!! I love music with most of my heart ( i have a life and family you know!)

  • I love all this kind of stuff, but that doesn’t mean I can pronounce most of the words!!

  • Hi,
    What about laugher and sadness? Are they felt by any senses? Is there anything like sense of reasoning or intelligence? What about Sense of mind reading? I think these also to be identified as these also plays major roles in our day to day life.

  • Nonsense (do not feel offended this comment is not specifically to U in person; much of this is humbug)
    Was Aristotle born before the Vedas
    Science always misleads and then defends itself by saying, ‘we r developing’.
    If U (the so called science) r in development stage, then why the hell r u trashing fully mature established science.

  • Neat! But it’s a “chimaera” fish, not a “chimeara”

  • Very educative document. Keep up

  • I can walk in my house and know whether or not my wife is present and, if so, in which room. She could even be sleeping and I would know that she was present. She rarely wears perfume or cologne, so it is unlikely that scent is cuing me in.

    This happens as soon as I enter, so I can’t identify any ‘ordinary’ clues that would provide this information.

  • is Echolocation? a sense

  • I’m trying to keep an open mind, despite all the misspellings. It’s just so hard to take an article purporting “research” as credible when something as fundamental as “spelling” wasn’t important to the writer..

    • Daven Hiskey

      @rj: If you’d be so kind to note which words are misspelled that would be more helpful. Also, one’s ability to research has little to do with one’s ability to spell in one version of English or another. Don’t fall prey to the illogical notion that mastery of a particular language is indicative of intelligence.

      • For example, shouldn’t “Magentoception” be “MagNEtoception”? The ability to perceive magnetic fields should have nothing to do with the color magenta.

      • The smarter the genius, the worse their spelling will be
        This is fact
        Intelligence happens faster than your physical body is capable of

        Obvious through common sense

        Do try to keep up

  • I’m sure of another sense that isn’t covered here, namely the ability to detect emotions. My theory is that emotions are expressed as vibrations in a person’s electromagnetic field (which surrounds them), and are sensed by those vibrations being transferred to water molecules in another person’s body. This would make sense for people near each other, although I’m aware that some people can sense emotions of people they are emotionally close to, even though they may be spatially distant.

    • I think it’s something the brain can figure out, which is why it’s not always accurate.

  • What about depth perception?

    • Depth perception comes from having two eyes and a place in the brain to process the information from them into a 3D image. It is a subset of the sense of sight.

      • There is also 3D sound perception as well. Where is the sound coming from?

      • Depth perception is more than simply the overlaying of two 2D images.
        Granted that is bare sensing mechanism, but that doesn’t describe the sensing itself.
        The integration and instant feedback/knowledge of the 3D interlocations is a thing that is more than the sum of its parts.
        By similar contrast, sensing flavor of food is the sum of its taste and inwardly smelled aroma, which together make a sense that is more than than the sum of those two more raw sensory inputs.

  • I think I have senses that exceed normal humans. I can see things in others, my hearing is so good that it’s hard to hear people next to me cause of all the ruckess going on around. I heard a tick scream one time when I burned it. One day I was at work and I had this strong ringing in my ear that only came from a certain direction. I couldn’t fig out where it was coming from. I walked outside and could feel/hear the ringing/vibration and it was coming from the same direction from when I was inside. I can sense personalities, peoples moods, not sure how true this is but I think I can see good and bad in humans. Need a little guidance here lol

  • You used a term, “magentoception”, that is not correct. It should be “magnetoreception”.

  • Synesthesia is a lot more complicated than described here

  • There are many senses out there that the world doesn’t know about and isn’t ready for. There are sub senses of the basic 5, 6, 7 and 8. 6 being will or faith if you will, 7 being conscious thought and 8 being awareness.

  • Well common sense hasn’t prevailed here…i see people jump on the band wagon with your “spelling mistakes”, yet they lack the sense (common sense) to read all the comments before commenting as they want to show how “smart” they are with correcting you, yet if the had the sense and had taken the time, they would have seen that those issues (really irrelevant) have already been addressed.
    I personally found this article to be very interesting and was more interested in the content than the spelling of certain words.
    Thank you author!

    • I agree with your comments and I too found the article interesting, however the author suggests that some senes are not as strong in humans whereas I would consider these as potentially dormant. Most animals sniff their surroundings but we don’t because it is uncivilised or animal like and undermines human superiority. Over generations these attributes might render us far less capable of sensing certain things but essentially it might still be hiding on our dna.

      • People never sniff for scents?! That is SO untrue. Some people may not realize they’re ‘inhaling their surrounds’, but people definitely do use their sense of smell, and constantly.

  • I found this very interesting. I have a couple theories from my own personal experiences in life. one is frequencies, I began to notice I would get a feeling of my phone ringing or my pocket vibrating BEFORE it would actually happen. later on Id have times where id think of a person and then my phone would go off, or id reach for my phone to call someone, (without touching or thinking about it (my phone) for a good amount of time) and it would ring almost instantly when I grabbed it. this is not a definite perfected sense, because other times I will be busy doing something and miss calls if my phone is on silent.

    Another sense I wonder about is not quite reading minds but I thought I heard somewhere that our brains produce short range frequencies. Sometimes I wonder if some people have the ability to not read minds, but moods or thoughts or direction of conversation. I think certain people give off bad vibes, and other people seem to talk about something I’m thinking about even if its something not normally on my mind, my theory is that our brains are subconsciously “getting in tune” with each others frequencies, and its just a feeling of “I was just thinking that” or “just about to say that” sry for the long run-on comment but this is all very interesting, I’d like to hear more on the topic if anything I’ve said is relevent

    • Maclain Stedman

      It is called kinesthetic or in other words the feeling of the world around you.

    • Reality as we know it

      I believe all people have extreme untapped abilities. It is a matter of focusing our minds on turning on and tuning on the different abilities. Most psychics are conmen/ conwomen. I personally encountered one once by chance on holiday in India. He was a Korean man that identified a woman I was sharing a bed with ( not sexually ) who through an interpreter ( as he spoke no English ) that she had been raped previously. All of our party who had enjoyed a few weeks of magic together travelling in India were shocked on the revelation and she broke down in tears. He then proceeded to identify each of personal traits ( some that the individual didn’t see themselves but recognised! ) except for me which he said I was mysterious ( probably because I have a chameleon like personality )

    • Look into the First Chapter of The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill, It is actually the intro of the book not the first chapter, but It sure seems like a chapter. Its Called The MasterMind…he goes into his own ideas about what this is that you speak off. Hope that helps! I also have read a many times that Our hair is intended to be transmitters of brain frequency. Might be the reason females seen to be better communicators and understanding. In the Bible there is a story about a man named Samsun that had much strength due to his hiar…and they set him up to have a his hair cut and his “power” removed by having a female seduce him and cut his hair as he slept…interesting topic indeed!

  • “…detecting blood born hormones and drugs.” Hormones and drugs aren’t alive, thus were not “born.” The word you’re looking for is “borne,” as in “carried by.”

  • אייל טנדלר

    Missing one, we also have the sense of balance,

  • Hey Alex, your not too far from the truth. I can do all those things that your talking about, but the brain does not have a short range frequency. It has a long range frequency that goes out into the universe. Our thoughts travel very far. If people could actually detect brain waves then they could read other peoples minds. There are two ways this can happen, you either become one with your self which is very hard or you have to be born with a gift of doing it.

  • What about ringing in the ears, im not talking about your normal ringing, im talking about the kind that only happens right as your about to fall asleep, right in the moment before you nod off, itll start in one ear, it even has a rythym starting ad small beeps then get longer then the other ear joins in taking turns, then the louder they get the longer they get until in unison, and its so loud so loud it seems impossible that noone else hears it, what most odd to me is that these sounds arent natural they seem man made. Let ke an Instrument or something. And I also hear white noise when noone else does, hell they dont even know what I mean when I say that! I hear the tv when its not on, is this or are any of these thungs described a sense?

    • That is likely a form of hallucination, which includes any “sense” that is created by ulterior means: pressure causing visual effects, nerve pinching causing a sensation of pain elsewhere, damaged nerves sending either no signal or a different one. Or it could be like the visual static some people have in dark to medium light, it is always there, but when no other signal is present, the static is perceived.

  • Daven – I’ve just come across your article and I’d like some evidence for your statement: “It turns out …most researchers think there are more like twenty-one or so [senses].” – could you cite one or two of those “most researchers” published research or articles? This is an interesting and serious topic that deserves some back up evidence.

  • I disagree with nearly everything this article says. There are only 5 sense. All the other “senses” put forth in this article are merely extensions of the basic 5 senses. They arent senses so much as they are the results of using 1 or more of the 5 senses you already have.

    I also dislike how this is put forth as absolute fact when common sense (Not a sense, a function of my brain) tells you clearly what is true here and what is not. Getting tired of people using pages like this to push ‘Fact’ when it isnt fact, and using ‘Studies’ as fact when they are nothing more than circumstantial evidence in most cases.

    • Interesting point.

      I think there may be more than five, but far less than the plethora of senses mentioned here.
      I think to really qualify as a raw, base, sense, there should be biological transducers associated specifically for that natural quantity being sensed. So certainly the usual five have that, but I do see more.
      Technically, a hybridized “sense”, like flavor (smell and taste) or 3D perception (two different optical images) should not be in the list, even if the whole is larger than the sum of the parts.

      • Reality as we know it

        The majority of the so called up fairytale seneses have parts of the brain dedicated with receptors so I would expect through ” common sense” ( cringe ; ) that this qualify as a sense. I am going to email this to my old human biology lecturer as I am neither qualified or have the time to research the facts.
        Happy Easter!

  • Magentoception – the ability to see misspelled words.

  • Sleeping. What about the sense of the need to lie down to sleep? We can stay awake with our rational mind, but eventually everyone sleeps.

  • I agree with the magnet sensitivity, I have been to Sedona Arizona and there are different places there with a strong magnetic pull. I can’t stay there to long or I get very nauseous and very dizzy. If anyone wants to test their response to magnetic pull. I suggest going to Sedona, not only that but it also has the different Vortex areas. I knew a guy who would go there and become Euphoric and energized. Thanks for the article, I loved it.

  • Touch or more accurately bodily feeling seems to incorporate every single thing here other than the other 4 senses (sight, hearing, taste and smell). These divisions seem quite a bit arbitrary.

    Also, although Aristotle may have been one of the first to historically refer to 5 senses in the West. The 5 senses (although often times 6 when thought/mind are considered) are talked about often in much earlier Indian sources such as the Buddha’s teachings and Hindu texts. It is a shame we seem to think something is not discovered until a Westerner has proclaimed it. Aristotle was rather late to the party.

  • I didn’t see stereognosis, which is the sense that helps you recognize things by feel. It how we women can find our keys and lipstick in our purses without looking. It also, along with proprioception, allows us to drive a stick shift: proprioception tells you which gear you’re moving into, and stereognosis lets you know you’re holding the stick, and not your passenger’s knee.

  • The word is “magnetoreception” not “magentoception”.

  • Wikipedia is not a reliable source of reference, any college or university graduate would know this.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Kelsy: Wikipedia is a fairly good source actually, nearly as good as Encyclopedia Britannica. As with any source, though, everything must be quadruple checked. For instance, Encyclopedia Britannica, perhaps one of the most accurate huge sample-size general knowledge works in human history has about 2.92 errors per science article on their website. In truth, that’s actually quite remarkable given the vastness of their work, as is Wikipedia’s rate. Besides these, I’ve personally encountered numerous errors in some of the best, and most accurate sources for information, such as the OED, the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, the Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology, etc. etc. Again, nobody bats a thousand. But the point is, Wikipedia’s error per article rate is up there with some of the best. I guess it just goes to show you even “college and university graduate[s]” get things wrong sometimes. Nobody bats a thousand, despite that many seem to act like some of these revered knowledge repositories do, all the while turning up their noses at Wikipedia that has about the same accuracy rate. 😉

      • The biggest inaccuracies in Wikipedia, come about when the topic is some politically charged point, or social stance.
        Sometimes at a passionate crossroads of a scientific point.

        For non-socially controversial things, it is very good.

  • As a psychology major, I have to disagree with almost everything 🙁

    A ton of what you describe here are just cognitive. A SENSE has to be a SENSation followed by perception. A lot of these skip the sensation aspect. There is just a misconception about what a sense really is. Spiderman has a “spidey-sense” that lets him detect trouble. This is basically just psychic superpowers, but we call it a ‘sense’ because that’s just easier.

    • Edit:

      But this article was still a fun read! It provokes critical thinking, which is never a bad thing 🙂

    • as a psychology major you should probably stick to psychology. as the saying goes “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” yours is the misconception, even by your own standards there are at least 9 senses:
      Equilibrioception: are you saying dizziness isn’t a “sensation” followed by the perception of loss of balance?
      Thermoception: are you saying being burned isn’t a “sensation” followed by the perception of burning?
      Magnetoception: are you saying cows are keeping track of which way is north without perceiving the electro-magnetic force? please share, you should be a physicist designing the next compass!
      Nociception: are you saying the tearing of skin or muscle doesn’t cause you any “sensation”? Or that you perceive a knife wound in the same way that you perceive simply holding that knife?

      if just plain old sensation is all that matters, then there is truly only one sense: neurological sense. so your options are 1 or 9+, but definitely not 5, its disturbing that someone entering the mental health field is having such a hard time leaving behind their stone age beliefs.

  • WHOAH!!!!!!! I have THAT MANY SENSES? 😮

  • “Some people experience something called synesthesia where they may perceive some sound and think of it as a color. So a dog barking may be “red” to them or the like. This condition does not generally occur naturally, though it can; it usually manifests itself when people are under the influence of hallucinogens.”

    actually, it’s quite common naturally (<1% but still more common than i had expected initially), but hard to measure as many people who have synesthesia don't even realize it, the "best guesses" as to how common it is are between 1:100,000 and 1:5,000

  • The sense of direction. It’s got to be real. I can find my way through a room while in pitch darkness when I’ve never been in it. IT MUST BE REAL!!!

  • makes sense, how come they didn’t teach us these things in school? another sense that is not on this list is the sense of fullness, that’s the sense that notifies you when you’ve had enough to eat and drink, your body always seems to let you know. It turns out that this is a separate sense within your body, involving its own cluster of sensory receptors that tell you when you need to stop eating.

  • I believe there are still lots of human senses than we all know, cos all this while I had lived with what we were taught in the school that we only have five senses. Thanks for this eye opener.

  • Daven,

    I have to say I loved this article. Many people don’t realize just how much of life we perceive through other means than the five primary senses. I wanted to bring to your attention that there are a few key inaccuracies in your information. I am a current student of psychology at MSU Denver working towards a Ph.D. By all means check other sources as well but here is what I could notice from just reading through once. Our ability to see brightness is due to the number of photons that enter the retina at a given time and not due to rods. Brightness can be regulated by the dilation of the iris, the colorful part of your eye. Rods are the type of photoreceptors that are more sensitive to light, so they can only see in shades of grey. This is due to a low spatial resolution which just means it sucks at seeing contrasting colors. On a side note, good research on itch because that has just recently become a more widely accepted idea among scientists. I was surprised that there was no mentioning of neurons themselves. I assume that’s because you were worried about getting off topic but for thermoception it is useful to note that certain neurons in the somatosensory cortex allow us to perceive heat, energetic atoms, and cold, slow moving atoms. I wish you had more details about each “sense” because I like how you present information. I quote sense only because many of these are interpretations of the five primary senses, done in the thalamus. Magnetoception seems like it should be researched more. It would be nice to no longer need compasses. As a minor in philosophy I think the sense of time is pushing it a little. Perception of time is pretty subjective given that it does not actually exist outside human experience. Finally I enjoyed the bonus facts. I read fact books for fun and research random information about psychology before I go to bed and I still didn’t know most of those facts, so thank you! I am always open to comments and wish you the best in your future endeavors.

    Matt Dalton

  • I haven’t read anything that has to do with the sense of pleasure. Could someone explain this to me?

  • “People with Parkinson’s disease and ADD have severely impaired sense of time passage compared to “normal” people.”

    Might I suggest that this line may be a bit more tactful as, “compared to others.”

  • It has been said, that the ancient Egyptian believed 360 senses are to be held.

  • Five years too late, but I suppose you could add a side-sense to sight, our ability to visually perceive the polarization of light. Due to the (average) radial arrangement of photoreceptive pigments in the human eye, polarized light will cause us to see a weird afterimage called Haidinger’s Brush. The orientation and behaviour of the Brush allows one to determine the linear or circular polarization of the source.

    I daresay we’re not as good at it as bees are, though.

  • I hate to inform you that this is indisputably wrong !
    there is only 1 sence ! that sence is touch !
    all other sences are nothing more than specialized forms of touch ! ( if it has a receptor then it is touch by definition )
    1, touch = self explanatory
    2, taste = touch ( food on toungue )
    3, sight = touch ( light is a wave AND a molecule ) light hits receptors in eye !
    4, sound = touch ( air pressure waves contact the ear drum )
    5, smell = touch ( molecules in the air contact receptors (specialized taste receptors) in the nose )

    • Reality as we know it

      The rest of humanity has a sixth sense. Fool sense- you my friend are identified. Good riddance.

    • I hate to inform you that your spelling of the words ‘sense’ and ‘tongue’ are “indisputably wrong!”.

  • smartass337: What the hell are you talking about? By that standard we can solely sense changes in the electrical potential of the chemicals present in our brain cells. Our sense of touch is just as complex as the processing of light waves that gives us sight or the chemical reactions that give us taste and smell. You have a point with hearing, I think.

    I’m fairly certain we’re interested in discussing the qualities of being human and how we interact with the world around us. Breaking it down to the level of quantum particle interaction is a trip down a rabbit hole.

    So, back on topic now, I have a feeling that synesthesia isn’t limited to the basic 5 senses. It seems like I know what my thoughts are shaped like. I don’t see them, necessarily, but I can draw them or make a very simplified representation of them with my hands. And my face speaks, making me a terrible liar. The word “tumble” when used to describe something related to a spider is viscerally disturbing.

    • “It seems like I know what my thoughts are shaped like. I don’t see them, necessarily, but I can draw them or make a very simplified representation of them.”

      That’s interesting.
      Even stranger, I think I understand what you’re saying!

  • I would like to better appreciate and understand my sense of weight ~ of external objects and within my body. I can feel I have a weight. As a whole body. And also as parts of the whole for example the weight of my arm or head as I move. I can sense the weight of an object when I pick it up. I love this article and the responses thanks! But what is the sense that acts has my internal weight measuring scale? I am not so sure it is any of these….

    • that would probably be touch. since your weight provides force on your body

  • I really love this discussion.

    It is interesting to define senses, as very often many are simply based on the creation of your subconscious framework, based on the original senses you used from birth.

    I imagine a sense would have to be present from birth, before you begin to create a subconscious mind and define the world based on your environment.

    The senses that i can imagine as of now would be.

    1- Awareness – The ability to feel the presence of a individual or person, without actually seeing them.
    I believe one explanation of this, would be from the very early form of man.
    The amount of dangerous creatures, would require such a sense for survival.

    2- Danger – Very similar to the ability above, the difference being able to sense danger. Intuition of some form, separate from the other five senses.

    3- Connection – This is a difficult one to describe. I understand that connection as a word describes a human need and not a sense. The connection i am describing, is the connection to our environment. The concept of being in the moment, the feeling you get knowing everything began from the same place.

    Thank you

  • Pressure/touch is more than one sense. There is deep pressure and light touch, both of which have profoundly different effects on me. Light touch is painful; deep pressure touch is pleasurable.

  • this is such BS! everyone knows there are only THREE senses!

    …. jk… awesome article!! 😉

  • Not sure about sense,but we definitely have more than 5 nonsense.

  • “any system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that respond to a specific physical phenomenon and that corresponds to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted.

    You forgot the end ” . Just kinda bothered me

  • I wonder human can also sense the “change in air humidity” and “wetness of skin”(in contact with liquid), do these two actually kinds of senses?

  • We can also sense the invisible rays emitted by the eyes of some human or creature looking at us.
    And we can transmit the same rays over quite long distances.
    We can also detect the invisible rays coming from invisible demons.

  • Who wrote this and where is the resources that should be listed?

  • A lot of those “new senses” are either part of the sense of touch or sense of balance. And some of them are cognitive brain functions. Did you sleep through elementary science?

    • actually touch and balance are their own senses… there are at least 19 other senses that are completely separate and they ALL utilize separate brain functions. do you even know what sense means?! maybe you should graduate from elementary science before commenting? your comment is not unlike a 1st grader telling a professional painter cerulean doesn’t exist because “there are only 7 colors! my teacher said!”

  • Here’s what I have:


  • What a bunch of nit-pickers in reader comments. Blah-blah- spelling- blah- blah – not a sense – blah- blah..
    It was a fun article and got all of your brains busy, which is the point of this link!

  • I found this article because I was looking for a list of senses. I was thinking about senses because of a surreal experience I had a few years ago triggered by an abscessed tooth. I lost my time sense. The abscess occurred at the end of a work week, so my dentist was unavailable until after the weekend. To avoid the pain as much as possible, I decided to sleep as much as I could since time seems to pass faster when asleep. So I took some Advil and went to bed and dozed off. After what seemed like a full night’s sleep, I woke up only to realize just a minute or so had elapsed. I tried again with the same result. This weekend seemed like it was going to take forever to elapse. I ended up resolving the issue by turning on the radio. I don’t have an explanation for how it worked, but time progressed normally as long as the radio was playing. My time sense came back after my abscess erupted through my gums.

  • Hi Daven, which were your bibliographical references of magazines, articles or scientific books to write this article.


  • Some people experience something called synesthesia where they may perceive some sound and think of it as a color. So a dog barking may be “red” to them or the like. This condition does not generally occur naturally, though it can; it usually manifests itself when people are under the influence of hallucinogens.

  • well I think that we have more than nine actual feelings in the body

  • If you go to the source listed for magnetoception, it literally says “humans are not perceptable to this sense” although there is proteins in the eye that may have it, it has not been proven, this shows this guy didn’t actually check his facts.

  • Some of this is true, Because when i lick her butt i taste the number 2 or Brown, if you will

  • And almost ten years after publication of this article no mention of remote viewing. Just Google Ingo Swan. Every one supposedly can do this with practice. Every one except me. Mr Swan was an artist from New York. He, and others, got paid by the government, CIA, to spy on the Russians because the Russians were supposedly spying on the US. He found the ring around Jupiter before NASA did. It’s a lot more than just spy games. It’s also well documented. Don’t know where this sense would be placed , or even if it’s a real sense, but it’s definitely a trip. You can find him on the CIA website as well.

  • The truth shall let you free

    The 5 senses have traditionally been called the “windows of the Soul” meaning that they were our access to the outer physical world. If we could not see, hear, feel touch, smell or taste, we had no way of knowing that there was anything like an external world, our experience would be confined to our inner thoughts and sensations (not based on senses).

    With this in mind, this article seems to be based on a misunderstanding of the word “sense”. It should be obvious to anyone that a sense that allows access to the outer physical world is of another nature than a sense that allows you to balance or to sense an itch. There would not be any itch or anything to balance if you did not have the sense of touch.

    The 5 senses are therefore much more than the additional senses that have been added later.
    The comment about the ‘sense of humor’ and ‘common sense’ crystallizes this in a humorous way.

  • You probably have some kind of “time” sense. How is your body able to wake up a couple of minutes before the alarm, particularly when you don’t put on an alarm very often?