Café Scientifique: The Biology of Touching

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David Linden, Professor of Neuroscience, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Time of Event: 
Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 18:30


49 West Coffeehouse, Wine Bar and Gallery
49 West Street
Annapolis, Maryland

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) organizes the Annapolis Café Scientifique—a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology.

There is never a cover charge for Café Scientifique!

Please note: seating is limited.

Reservations are strongly suggested and sometimes required depending on attendance. Please call (410) 626-9796 to guarantee your seat or, just as importantly, to cancel your reservation so someone on the waitlist may attend.


From skin to nerves to brain, our body’s touch circuits are a complex and often odd system that powerfully influences our lives, affecting everything from consumer choice and sexual behavior to tool use and the deep origins of language. Millions of years of evolution have endowed us with areas of the brain that are dedicated to processing touch signals; with a series of dedicated sensors and nerve fibers that predispose us to respond to a stimulus like a caress, but only if it’s administered at the proper velocity; with receptors in our skin that make mint feel cool and chili peppers hot. When we lift the hood of the brain, though, we discover there are actually two different systems for processing touch: one to extract basic sensory information, and another to register its particular emotional context.

David Linden's new book, Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind, is an engaging and fascinating examination of this critical interface between our bodies and the outside world, exploring every aspect of this remarkable sense. As he demonstrated in this New York Times bestseller The Compass of Pleasure, David Linden is the rare scientist who can write with clarity and wit while drawing upon a broad and fascinating range of cutting-edge research. In Touch he brings those gifts to examining precisely how, literally and figuratively, we feel.


David J. Linden, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His laboratory has worked for many years on the cellular substrates of memory storage in the brain and a few other topics. He has a longstanding interest in scientific communication and served for many years as the Chief Editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology. He is the author of two bestselling books on the biology of behavior for a general audience, The Accidental Mind (Harvard/Belknap, 2007) and The Compass of Pleasure (Viking Press, 2011) which, to date, have been translated into 14 languages. His most recent book, Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind was published by Viking Press (USA/Canada) on January 28, 2015.

Click here for more information about the Annapolis Café Scientifique.

Event type: 
Café Scientifique
Event Attendance: 
Open to the Public
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