Why can’t you pinpoint exactly where your organs are?



If you’ve learnt human biology you know roughly where they are, but why can’t you say exactly where your liver is for example? Does the brain just not know?

In: Biology

If you’ve learnt enough human biology, you’ll be able to pinpoint them. It’s just difficult to find something you can’t see.

That’s how surgeons know where to cut.

Because the parts of your senses concerned with tracking the location of your body parts are more focused on your limbs/head (which could wind up oriented any which way relative to your torso) than your organs (which pretty much sit in one place and mind their own business, unless something has gone horribly wrong). Much like how a lot of internal processes are “involuntary”, with the brain keeping them running without you needing to think about it, the unconscious mind doesn’t bother passing a lot of information from the internal organs to the conscious mind unless something is out of order. For the most part, it doesn’t need to, since the number of “day to day” tasks that require precise knowledge of the location of your own liver are extremely slim.

You don’t actually have much feeling inside your body, so you can’t tell just by feeling it.
However, if you know where they are and use your hands you will be able to identify every organ.

The brain doesn’t need to know where anything is, it just needs to have access to them via blood or nerves. If you detach the liver and manage to graft and stitch blood and vessels and nerves 3 meters long to have your liver 3 meters away from you (assuming it’s still in the same physiological conditions), your brain will continue to function normally sending and receiving signals and releasing hormones to the liver. Your brain does however fine tune signals based on the time it takes for them to reach the organ and come back with feedback, but it can easily adapt.

And of course you can tell quite well where organs are (assuming they follow the general trend you study in anatomy in medical school). Doctors learn topographic anatomy, where they memorize the location of structures and organs in reference to other structures (such as skin folds, bone protrusions, ribs, etc). So if a doctor palpitates you on the outside, he can tell you where your organs begin and end.

Knowing where your organs are isn’t something you need to do if they don’t move relative to the rest of your body; you can feel when your stomach or large intestine is full, but you don’t really need to be able to locate say your gall bladder.

Knowing where your legs are in contrast is extremely useful, and something that the brain will need to get practice in.

You can tell roughly where your limbs are from sensors that measure the stretch of your muscles. This sense is called [proprioception] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proprioception).

There is no such thing for your organs so you can’t tell where they are. In the past, most people probably didn’t even know they had them.

The brain doesn’t know where the liver is, because it doesn’t need to. All it needs is for the liver to do its job.

No, the brain does not know, because there is absolutely no point. It doesn’t help you survive in the old wild days. It really doesn’t help you in any way at all. You’re body is built for survival and pretty much nothing else. If it doesn’t help with that either now or at some point in the past, then you don’t have it. I can think of zero situations where this would be useful.