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Where Balance?[edit]

Exteroceptive vs. proprioceptive: which is balance? The article seems to slightly contradict itself in first calling balance an exteroceptive sense, then saying that kinethesis differs from proprioception in that it lacks balance. --anonymous

I notice the same incongruity. Could anyone with more knowledge then me correct the article? -- 14:15, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

Well, there's some incongruity in the definition of proprioception. Looking at a range of dictionary definitions (from here), we have from the reception of stimuli produced within the organism (Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary), which is ambiguous as far as balance goes, all the way to The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself. In humans, these stimuli are detected by nerves within the body itself, as well as by the semicircular canals of the inner ear. (The American Heritage Science Dictionary), which explicitly includes balance. The definition of kinesthesia clearly excludes balance, as it refers specifically to muscles and joints, such as The sense that detects bodily position, weight, or movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints. (American Heritage Dictionary).
As to whether balance is an external or internals stimulus, that's bordering on metaphysics...the source of the gravity you feel is external to your body, but the gravity itself passes through your body, and it's there, in the inner ear, that the gravity is felt. If that is an internal sense, then shouldn't sight, which perceives light that has passed through the lens of the eye into the body, also be an internal sense? Balance is sort of the bastard stepchild of the senses, being left out of the "big five", but it could be argued that loss of the sense of balance is as or more debilitating than deafness or blindness. scot 14:53, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
I personally think the criteria for a sense being extroceptive / introceptive should not be the method of its operation, but rather what it allows us to understand. The 'big five' are primarily useful to gather information about the outside world. Balance indeed uses gravitation to do its work, but that's a technicality. What it informs us about is not the Earth's gravitational field (which we assume to be constant), but rather our head's orientation in relation to it. Since balance teaches us about our own body, I believe it should be categorized with the introceptive senses.Privman (talk) 17:53, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Removed the following unattributed anecdote:

"Someone reports having lost the proprioception in one of his little fingers. When he grabs something, that little finger may or may not be in the way. The finger is not paralysed, it moves when he wants it to, but he can determine how much it moved only by looking at it. Watching it all the time slows his work down too much, so he prefers to correct for it when he feels that little finger bump into an object he is grasping."

It didn't seem necessary, although it is an accurate portrayal of what someone could experience. --Nameless

Someone on Usenet mentioned this article and said that proprioception is the sense that your body parts 'belong' to you, and is the sensor for the feedback loop that gives you base muscle tone, but that kinesthesia is the sense of limb position, the sensors detecting the degree of joint flexion. Anyone know whether this is correct? If so, this article looks to be largely one about kinesthesia rather than proprioception. Bryan 08:26, 10 Feb 2004 (UTC)

From my limited experiences in the field kinesthesia and proprioception are used interchangeably. My curiousity was piqued, so I did a little googling on the difference betwen kinesthesia and proprioception. Most of the information I found uses the terms interchangeably. However, in a few locations I found attempts to distinguish them (not all compatible):

Kinesthesia is a sub-modality of the broader term of Proprioception. Proprioception encompasses 4 submodalities: joint position sense, kinesthesia, and speed/force of movement. Proprioception is the actual acquistion of information via proprioceptive receptors---the information acquired, then, is JPS, kinesthesia, and speed/force of movement. Jenna

  • kinesthesia is a localized sensation, proprioception is "body wide"
  • proprioception includes a sense of "orientation" (presumably from vestibular equilibrioception), whereas kinesthesia is just positional sense
  • kinesthesia is strictly from sensory data from nerve receptors in the muscles and joints, whereas proprioception includes "other" intra-body sensations.
  • kinesthesia is the sense of motion, proprioception is the sense of position
Perhaps there is some specialized knowledge which can help with this distinction. Or perhaps these terms are used loosely to refer to the same thing.
I have found that when these terms are used alone they are both used in two major senses. One as the raw input from sensory neurons, and the other to refer to a more qualial, experiential, or psychological sense of self. The funny thing is that when they are used in either sense, they are used synonymously. Perhaps there is some specialized knowledge which can help with this distinction, but the usage makes this seem dubious.
--mporch 07:30, 25 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Mporch is correct, more or less. Kinesthesia is one aspect of proprioception, just like hot/cold discrimination is one aspect of the sense of touch.

The NIH ( defines proprioception/kinesthesia as:

"proprioception is the sense of body position and movement, mediated by the labyrinth (equilibrium) and peripheral receptors in the muscles and elsewhere (limb and joint position); kinesthesia includes the latter, but not equilibrium"

I'm going to mention kinethesia in the first paragraph (since I've created a kinesthesia page that redirects here) and use the NIH definition to differentiate, and mention that the two terms are often used interchangeably. scot 16:30, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Proprioceptive Stimulation[edit]

I am a Podiatric Researcher and Biomechanical Engineer. My area of interest has been proprioceptive stimulation, its impact on posture and chronic musculoskeletal pain. For information on our research (including published articles), visit the following non-commercial website:

removed link, it contains no external ADs but in my opinion is a promotional website. -- 14:19, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

Example of proprioception?[edit]

It is noted that a general lack of empathy and good feeling among a population of human strangers (ex a sidewalk of commuters, students, etc.) is expressed most often by 'eyes on the ground,' usually focused on the immediate path of the feet in question.

I wonder how connected proprioception is to theory of mind and that, what do you call it, theory that where someone is looking relative to their head is related to their thought process?

Perhaps being introverted and feeling alone would result in an increased focus on the repetitive and necessary functions of the self?

Or is it some kind of poetic metaphor that our eyes drop downward when we are sad?

Please add pronunciation[edit]


The current IPA has adjacent inverted "r" and upright "r" - this is wrong. One or the other, but not both. — 20:32, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

Proprioception and inner ear[edit]

I am a hearing and balance specialist (neurotologist) and I take issue with a definition of proprioception which would imply the balance organs of the inner ear (the vestibule) have something to do with it. Strictly speaking, the vestibule is a mechanoreceptive sensory organ which detects angular and linear accelerations of the head. It has nothing to do with the sensation of location or movement of the limbs or trunk, although it participates in reflex arcs which may generate reflex movements of limbs or trunk to maintain balance.

I agree entierly. This article seems to confuse vestibular sense with proprioception and contradict itself as a result. It is in need of a major rewrite. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Selket (talkcontribs) 21:14, 21 January 2007 (UTC).
I'm with you, too - the inner ear senses rotation by the inertia of fluid in the semi-circular canals, if I remember my school lessons correctly. They will not be affected by the direction of gravitational force. The sense of 'which way is up' is probably deduced from forces on limbs due to their own weight, and distribution of pressure on supporting contact points eg feet on ground ! 06:23, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
I disagree. Linear acceleration is sensed by the otolith organs of the inner ear. -- (talk) 12:14, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Proprioception is (according to my textbooks) a sense of the position of the limbs and body in relation to itself. Although proprioception plays a major role in the ability to, for example, walk or stand upright, it has nothing to do with the inner ear. I at least was unable to find any direct link between the afferent nerves of muscle spindles and the vestibulospinal tract. Perhaps the article should be corrected and given proper citations?-- (talk) 12:14, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

Spinal injuries[edit]

This article doesn't mention it but proprioception is also something (not surprisingly) that is frequently affected by spinal cord injuries. For example, a person may have muscle movement and/or sensation but no proprioception of e.g. the legs (which makes walking rather difficult requiring training etc). Nil Einne 19:30, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

I'd never heard of that before--but now that you mention it, I've heard of the what may be the opposite effect, in the form of phantom limb sensations. Can you point me to a source? scot 19:56, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
I am reading a case study on a lady who lost her proprioception. In her own words she said she felt she had been "scooped out". She had to releard how to move using mostly sight, though she still retained pain, pressure, and temperature perception. She could "feel her arms" by the wind but not thier location. You may find the story in chapter 3 of Oliver Sacks' "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and other clinical tales". Sorry I don't have an internet source.
Also the same story clearly distinguishes proprioception from balance perception, which it is noted may compensate in part for her lack of position perception. Falton 03:32, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

Misleading article[edit]

I think this article is misleading and contains a number of factual inacuracies. There is rampant confusion of proprioception and vetibuloception (a completely seperate topic). I find the fact that the use by law enforcement section is longer than the basis section extreamly depressing.

Any objections to a major overhaul?

--Selket 10:30, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

I concur. Although after reading the article I did get a general idea what proprioception is, the article has a lack of focus, is winding, and was a generally unpleasant read. Anything you (or anyone) can do to make this more cohesive would really be of value.


I've added a couple of things to the preamble, principally a bit on the historic development of the notion of proprioception which I think helps clear up some of the difficulty with proprioception versus kinaesthesia. Unfortuntely as many researchers ignore this difference, the terms are becoming increasingly - and I think incorrectly - interchangeable. Being new to Wikipedia, I'm not sure how heavily you want this referened - please be assured that each of my contributions have valid references which I have left out partly as it makes it harder to read, and largely because I'm not sure how to do this ;-) I think ther are a couple of chunks which could, and perhaps should be simply removed from this article as they are misleading, but again I'm not sure of the protocol regarding editing someone else's work. Whiteley.rod 04:37, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Could you describe your references here on the talk page? There are plenty of other people here who could help with the formatting, if you could describe what they were. --Arcadian 18:39, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

I just came to this article, looked through it -- and I don't think it is that bad, currently. Go ahead and fix whatever technical flaws it may still have, but I don't think there is a need to tag/label/categorize it as "misleading".- 10:47, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

Proprioception plus Depth Perception?[edit]

The brain takes proprioception, depth perception, and other resources and uses them all together to create a 3-D understanding of the world surroundings and the physical self located in and moving in the world. What is the proper term for the whole functioning brain 3-D model/ability?- 11:16, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

Depth perception relies on external cues; proprioception is related to just internal senses. Proprioception plus external sensory data are both required for tasks such as walking; you have to know where your body is and how it's balanced, plus know how far away the ground is (does it slope up or down?) and where obstacles are that need to be avoided. 14:55, 12 September 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Fluzwup (talkcontribs)
See also body image aka body schema. Avb 19:28, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

I'm Kinesthetic![edit]

I was told that because I unconsciously moved my mouth while cutting with scissors, that I was kinesthetic. I have also heard Vilayanur Ramachandran talk about more than I see listed under the unpronounceable title "Proprioception". Notice how that just rolls right off the tongue (kinesthetic metaphor). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:57, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Where Tension and Strain?[edit]

"the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body." - this seems an inadequate definition. For example the perception of increased tension in my forearm which I can generate without moving anything but merely tensing the muscle is certainly proprioception but no relative position has changed. Similarly joint strain can be induced with no change in relative position. You can carry a heavy pack on your back (and feel it!) with no change in relative position.

Also rather than the reference to Alexander Technique here it would be more appropriate to mention Jacobson's Progressive Muscle Relaxation which is essentially a training in proprioceptive awareness - i.e. the awareness of active tension within the skeletal muscles and then the conscious reduction of that tension to a state of absolute muscular relaxation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Inspiros62 (talkcontribs) 01:35, 27 July 2009 (UTC)

Kinesthesia in linguistics[edit]

Kinesthesia is practiced with the vocal apparatus in order to develop control in phonetic articulation. This should be investigated and developed in the article. ᛭ LokiClock (talk) 05:05, 20 June 2010 (UTC)

Literature can be found on "oral kinesthesia." The motor theory of speech perception doesn't depend on kinesthesia skills, but this paper shows that a strength in it benefits speech production, and this one shows that "chronic developmental stuttering involves an oral kinesthetic deficiency." Though they don't involve teaching kinesthesia as phonetics training, they justify connecting phonetic skill with oral kinesthesia in this article. ᛭ LokiClock (talk) 10:01, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

Kinesthetic Sensory Modality[edit]

This page is inappropriately redirected to from "Kinesthetic". It needs a disambiguation, as the term kinesthetic is also used to denote a favored perceptual sense in a person, known as Sensory Modalities. See for more information. Definitely needs an overhaul. The wording on the page is also quite esoteric, I believe it should be simplified. Andrew Nickel (talk) 05:07, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

The usage in the named article is as a comparison to the physical senses. Auditory in the same example does not link to an article on a sensory modality of hearing, but to Hearing (sense). ᛭ LokiClock (talk) 18:51, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

But in the case of "Visual" and "Auditory", these words are frequently used and have much broader semantic possibilities. The frequency of specific semantic uses of the lexicon would certainly make "Auditory" an acceptable link to Hearing (sense), but even in that case it should be mentioned on the page that "Auditory" could refer to a sensory modality (of course much less frequently) rather than a perceptive sense. "Kinesthetic," however, is a rarely used word in and of itself, and is more likely to be used in the context of sensory modality. I simply think a disambiguation would be appropriate. I actually stumbled onto this "Proprioception" page by searching for "kinesthetic", fully expecting to be brought to an in-depth (or stub more likely) description of it as a sensory modality. When in doubt, clarify, right? Andrew Nickel (talk) 21:18, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

This article states that proprioception is the sensory modality of physical sensation. What else exactly do you expect it to say? I don't understand what you mean by a favored perceptual sense, maybe that's relevant. Maybe kinesthetic is rare, but kinesthesia is not. I don't think it has a definition outside of sensory modality, so the statement that it's more likely to be used in that context is vacuous. ᛭ LokiClock (talk) 22:22, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

Ahh I think I see what we are really mis-communicating about. In the sciences, often there are many different meanings for different words; unfortunately in Psychology and social sciences there is a strong tendency for researchers to either completely create new words and terms, or to apply to an existing word a new meaning. In this case, the connection between the word "kinesthetic" and "proprioception" is distinct in a neurological or medical context. However, "kinesthetic", when used by developmental psychologists, teachers, and as an adjective describing an aspect of a person's internal perception of the world around them has a separate and non-interchangeable meaning with proprioception. Andrew Nickel (talk) 04:13, 28 June 2010 (UTC)

I would be interested in hearing more about this sense of the term. Do you have any resources regarding kinesthesia in developmental psychology? ᛭ LokiClock (talk) 14:50, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

Proprioception in general[edit]

Is this a sixth sense?? I can carry a glass in the dark without spilling it; this has little to do with balance or touch. The entry does not address this question. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:45, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

Humans have far more than five senses. Graham87 15:42, 8 February 2012 (UTC)


What is this ɵ in /ˌproʊpri.ɵˈsɛpʃən/?
The normal pronunciation is proʊpriəˈsɛpʃən. (talk) 19:50, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

Mystery solved - "ɵ" is either oʊ or ə. I could have begun with this help (which is excellent by the way). (talk) 22:52, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

(Oliver?) Sacks[edit]

There's a mention of someone "Sacks" in the second last paragraph. This should include a full name, I'm just not certain enough to correct it to Oliver Sacks. — Harry (talk) 03:10, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

It was the viral infection that Oliver Sacks reported that was mentioned above. Graham87 06:35, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

Recent revert[edit]

My edit stating that proprioception is often referred to as the sixth sense cited a reliable source, Scientific American. It has been reverted with a reference to a WP disambig page which also gives the alternative of ESP. I do not see why this should be a reason for reverting. The ESP article states in the lead that it is called the sixth sense. Is this only acceptable for the alternative rejected by the vast majority of scientists? Dudley Miles (talk) 15:58, 23 July 2018 (UTC)

The disambiguation page also mentions the sense of balance, which works with the sense of proprioception. If it was really "often" called the sixth sense, as the Scientific American article claims, then why has nobody even thought to bring it up on either the article or talk page in at least the ten-and-a-half years it's been on my watchlist? Also see the Oxford Dictionaries definition of "sixth sense", which only mentions ESP. Graham87 06:08, 24 July 2018 (UTC)
My mistake; it sorta has been brought up here before, but not in a substantial way. Graham87 06:10, 24 July 2018 (UTC)
Under WP rules content should be based on reliable external sources, not WP itself. See Wikipedia:Potentially unreliable sources#Wikipedia mirrors. As to Oxford Dictionaries, it gives a popular definition, not a scientific one. A search on "sixth sense proprioception" here in Google Scholar gives 22,500 hits. Dudley Miles (talk) 08:38, 24 July 2018 (UTC)
"Sixth sense" is necessarily a colloquial term, since it has been established for a long time that humans have more than five (or six) senses, so I think dictionary sources carry quite a bit of weight here. As for your Google Scholar results, I can't get to the number of hits here (perhaps an issue with my screen reader?), but if you put "sixth sense" in quotes, you'l get more relevant results that don't relate to ""six weeks" or six subjects". Doing a general Google search, several result excerpts I find say that proprioception is *sometimes* described as a sixth sense; the most reliable source, whose website isn't working right now, appears to be this one from The Scientist. Such searches are subject to confirmation bias, anyway. Graham87 15:10, 24 July 2018 (UTC)
I would be happy with "sometimes" citing The Scientist. My concern is that a reader such as myself who looks up proprioception after reading that it is described as the sixth sense sees that Wikipedia does note the usage. A general dictionary is not authoritative for scientific usage. Google Scholar gives 1520 hits even with quotes round "sixth sense", showing that it is used in scientific literature. As to confirmation bias, this applies to comments favouring a particular position, not whether a term is used at alll. Dudley Miles (talk) 15:34, 24 July 2018 (UTC)
Alright, that sounds fair enough. I might add it in tomorrow if you don't beat me to it ... let's hope the website starts working again! Graham87 15:56, 24 July 2018 (UTC)


Who forwarded kinesthesia to this article? Someone has no idea at all what kinesthesia is... In the summary it is obliterated in its description, as do some of the other articles on the senses, require an expert. Clearly, whoever has been editing here is way over their head in the context of their knowledge of the topic... (and that is an understatement)...

There used to be a separate article on kinesthesia in Wikipedia... What happened to it? Stevenmitchell (talk) 15:57, 26 September 2018 (UTC)

You can find te answers to your questions in the page history for "Kinesthesia". However, there has never been a separate article on that topic. Graham87 02:49, 27 September 2018 (UTC)