This Little Piggy

Which piggy went to market? Which piggy stayed home?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Turns out that if we don’t look at our toes, we have trouble telling them apart by feel. Or so say Oxford University researchers. In their study, subjects closed their eyes. The researchers then prodded each little piggy and asked the subjects to identify the toe being touched.

People identified their big and little toes correctly ninety-four percent of the time. But accuracy for identifying middle toes? Varied between fifty-seven percent and seventy-nine percent.

The Oxford team suggests that maybe we don’t separately sense each toe. Maybe our brain envisions five overlapping blocks. And for some reason, the boundaries of the blocks and the gaps between the toes don’t match up.

The team thinks this work could help assess brain damage. For instance? Whether a concussed person when asked to identify his toes would respond like a healthy person.

Or perhaps a toddler. I hear they know their little piggies very well!