Much research has been done over the years to understand the senses such as sight, hearing, smell, and taste, but the knowledge on the sense of touch seems to be limited. For example, during a handshake, who is pressing to what hand? The answer to this question is one that certainly shows the multi-faceted aspects of touch, which is now being studied by Masashi Nakatani.
“I’m intrigued by the perception of the sensors (touch and body) and their use as positive effects to psychological and cognitive in our daily lives,” says Nakatani, who began his research in the campus Shonan Fujisawa, Keio University, in April 2017. “I started studying the modality of touch about 16 years ago when I was still a student. My phd was on the perception of the human touch to develop touch screens that could give information on the surface of the skin.” After this phd, Nakatani investigated the touch receptors found in the skin in a laboratory dermatological and also worked in the industry developing tactile sensors to assess cosmetics.
Now the researcher has concentrated on the developmental psychology of infants, a topic that came a bit by chance when he was in a meeting with an educator who developed classes for children 0 to 6 years., which wanted to use the technology. “This sounded like something cool and I decided to collaborate on a service to safeguard children”, says Nakatani. “I’m studying how infants explore and ‘feel the world’ using his vision and touch prior to acquiring the skills of speech. In fact, they seem to be collecting information that they need to survive”.
On the concern of the effects of modern technology on children, Nakatani is analyzing how current technologies such as the phone or tablet, affect the exploratory behavior visual and touch of the child. “My working hypothesis is that some of the children have fewer opportunities to explore with the modality of touch because of the mass exposure to information and communication is done via the view, so that the environments of exploration are less manuals, and active”, the researcher explains.
Nakatani is working in a multidisciplinary environment: “I Am working with a neuroscientist musician, Dr. Shinya Fujii, in the relationship about what is involved in the feeling of touching and being touched”, says and adds: “One of my goals is to clarify how the perception of the body helps to acquire cognitive skills that are unique of humans, particularly in the era of modern information”.