“Tickling… The Research.”

Surprisingly… there is a fair bit out there.

Mother: “Son, what do you want to do when you grow up?”
Son: “I want to be a tickling researcher.”
Mother (thrilled that he wants to do something not involving pimps, guns or drugs): “OK dear.”

Let me recap on why I’m talking about this lesser known field of research – my previous blog entry details how our nappy-less son shat on the bed. My husband (incorrectly) thinks he would have shat anyway; I (correctly) believe that my husband TICKLING HIM caused him to shit. Hence my mission to scientifically back my theory.

First, the current research on tickling.
1. Note:  if you are a rat-lover, the research may upset you*
2. I have taken the liberty of extrapolating the results to human populations (bold in brackets)

* Like Chantal Banks, who “loves rats more than people, including her estranged husband” (I know whose side I’m on!). She has a total of 19 long-tailed friends – which she describes as children – in her two-bedroom home.  She lets each of the rodents lick her lips, nibble food from her mouth and run across her while she sleeps.

Speaking of mouths I think I just vomited in mine.


OK, back to the research:

  • If you get a bunch of rats, rear them in isolation to totally mess with their fear responses and spatial learning… tickling can help alleviate some of these responses (send your kid to prison solitary confinement for 18 years, and when they get out of prison give them a tickle) (this will most certainly help with reintegration into society)
  • Expose a rat to repeated painful procedures. Then tickle them. Tickling them makes the rats easier to handle, especially if they were tickled when they were young rats (birth your child, tickle them as an infant, and rest assured that when you use a branding iron on them as a toddler that tickling them before branding will make the whole thing less painful) (in fact, let’s do away with anaesthetics for limb amputations… “Prep the bone saw and tickle the patient STAT!”);
  • Tickling in adolescent rats causes dopamine release, resulting in a certain type of “I am happy” rat vocalisation. Feeding these rats “Angel Dust” can reverse these vocalisations and induce schizophrenia-like symptoms (tickle your kids until they giggle, then as a cruel joke wipe them out with dissociative anaesthetics until they lose touch with reality);
  • Repeatedly tickling rats reduces fear-related behaviour and hormonal stress responses (make sure you tickle your teenager before you repeatedly stun them with a Taser so that they don’t get, like, you know, like, totally stressed out);
  • And, saving the best for last (because who on earth thinks of this stuff!)… young female rats that are tickled are more sexually responsive to smelly male rats, compared with adult female rats that are tickled (who find smelly male rats repugnant) (whatever you do, do NOT tickle your adolescent daughter because she will sleep with some greasy teenage pervert who hasn’t discovered deodorant yet. It is, however, safe to tickle your wife, because she will not sleep with the sweaty labourer, no matter how hot he is).

Alas, I have digressed further than a politician away from his values…

To answer the original query (and of course prove than I am right, as if there was ever any doubt…), here is the scientific proof that tickling causes shitting (at least in our 9 month old):

1. Tickling
2. Laughing
3. Contraction of abdominal muscles
4. Decreased volume of intra-abdominal cavity
5. Increased intra-abdominal pressure
6. Encourages expulsion of faecal matter

"I win"

“I win”


Hori M, Yamada K, Ohnishi J, Sakamoto S, Furuie H, Murakami K, Ichitani Y. Tickling during adolescence alters fear-related and cognitive behaviors in rats after prolonged isolation. J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2014 Mar;53(2):168-73.
Cloutier S, Wahl K, Baker C, Newberry RC. The social buffering effect of playful handling on responses to repeated intraperitoneal injections in laboratory rats. Behav Pharmacol. 2013 Aug 7. [Epub ahead of print]
Boulay D, Ho-Van S, Bergis O, Avenet P, Griebel G. Phencyclidine decreases tickling-induced 50-kHz ultrasound vocalizations in juvenile rats: a putative model of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia? Neuroreport. 2013 Mar 27;24(5):241-5. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e32835edbfa.
Hori M, Shimoju R, Tokunaga R, Ohkubo M, Miyabe S, Ohnishi J, Murakami K, Kurosawa M. Tickling increases dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens and 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in adolescent rats. Neurosci Lett. 2013 Mar 1;536:85-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.12.054. Epub 2013 Jan 11.
Hori M, Yamada K, Ohnishi J, Sakamoto S, Takimoto-Ohnishi E, Miyabe S, Murakami K, Ichitani Y. Effects of repeated tickling on conditioned fear and hormonal responses in socially isolated rats. Physiol Behav. 2012 Aug 20;107(1):17-25. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.05.017. Epub 2012 May 25.
Paredes-Ramos P, Miquel M, Manzo J, Pfaus JG, López-Meraz ML, Coria-Avila GA. Tickling in juvenile but not adult female rats conditions sexual partner preference. Physiol Behav. 2012 Aug 20;107(1):17-25. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.05.017. Epub 2012 May 25.

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