Story #3 sample

Below is the beginning of a story a student wrote for my class on the TedxUNC talk given by Johns Hopkins neuroscientist David Linden. 

Note, this is not a the full story, but I liked the beginning and how the student summarized the talk and some of the major points. Prof. Linden did a series of talks around this time, pegged to the release of his fascinating book Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind.

Below are two NPR summaries of Tedx talk so you can see how much of the very same information was used. I think this will help you in turning the talk into a news story that delivers useful information, distilling the most newsworthy and interesting aspects of the talk.

https://www.npr.org/2017/01/20/510627341/why-is-it-important-to-be-touched

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/02/03/383426166/fingertips-to-hair-follicles-why-touch-causes-pleasure-and-pain

A Sense of Touch

By Susanna []

Psychologists have long studied the significance of nonverbal communication: the vocal tones and facial expressions that relay meaning and portray emotion. For example, a warm soft voice can communicate sweetness, a hostile stare transmit sternness.

Researchers have only recently begun to focus on a different more subtle kind of wordless communication: physical contact. Brief physical touches, whether it be an exuberant high five, a gentle touch on the shoulder, or a creepy touch to the arm, have the ability to communicate a plethora of emotions more quickly and accurately than words.

David Linden, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University, discussed the profoundness of touch during his TedxUNC Talk titled “The Science of Touching and Feeling.” Linden said that the sense of touch is intrinsically emotional.

“To be human is to be emotional, to feel things,” said Linden, a professor in the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Linden, who has served as the chief editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology for 10 years,  has focused his research on memory storage, as well as recovery of the brain function after traumatic injury.

In his talk, Linden said that people can live a very happy and successful life without the sense of sight or sound, but that the absence of touch can result in detrimental social development. He gave the example of Romanian orphans during the Ceausescu regime in the 1970s and 1980s. Due to understaffed orphanages, the youngest children could go days without a human touch, such as being held, hugged or even patted on the head. This touch depravation can have profound effects on development, Linden said, including attachment disorder, stunted growth and poor immune systems.

However, the effects were reversible, if interventions were made within the first two years. “Touch is like super glue,” Linden said. “It’s what binds us together.”

Even the most  casual touches can have a positive impact. One study at the University of California, Berkeley noted that celebratory touches among basketball players, such as a tap on the back after a good play, resulted in improved performance and the team played more cooperatively. Dacher Keltner, a professor psychology at University of California, Berkeley, where he directs the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab, studied every team in the NBA and found that the teams who touched the most won the most.

The actual sensation of touch involves a number of messages from nerve endings to brain. The These messages assign the feeling we receive. Our brain determines if its good or bad, such as  a sexual sensation versus the burning heat of a stove. These nerves allow us to feel the difference between pain, heat, vibration, texture, sexual experience and more.

“We think of touch as a unified sensation, but it’s actually created by many different nerve endings that are specialized to transfer many different feelings,” he said.

And each sensation carries with an emotion, and humans are hard-wired to pay attention to sensations that occur outside of us… [note this story continued, this wasn’t the ending…

Published by Rienzi

A writer/teacher based in Maryland. Former New Yorker and avid baseball fan. You can often find me running, although not from anyone in particular.

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