“Tickle fight!” Those are the words that often start what turns out to be a hilarious free-for-all at a sleepover. After all, who can resist tickling a friend and causing them to guffaw with peals of laughter?

If laughter is the best medicine, then a tickle fight is like a trip to the hospital! Laughing with good friends can make all your troubles and worries disappear for a while. Although you might feel exhausted after a raucous tickle fight, it’s refreshing to cackle with your best friends.

But what about when you’re alone? Can you have a tickle fight by yourself? Not likely! Why not? Most people find that, even if they try, they can’t tickle themselves. What’s up with that?

Scientists think that your brain is the culprit. The human brain works amazingly well. In fact, it works too well sometimes, and that’s why most people can’t tickle themselves.

So that it can focus on the important things going on around you, your brain anticipates and filters out the routine things around you. One such thing it filters out is your own touch. When you go to scratch your arm or rub your leg, your brain already knows what’s going to happen before it happens.

A big part of a good tickle is the surprise factor. When someone tickles you unexpectedly, your body has a genuine reaction, which usually includes squealing with laughter. When you try to tickle yourself, there’s no surprise factor. Your brain anticipates the touch and isn’t surprised when it occurs.

Scientists believe the part of the brain responsible for monitoring the body’s movements is the cerebellum. The cerebellum is located at the base of the brain. It automatically distinguishes between expected sensations (like how your pencil feels in your hand when you write) from unexpected sensations (like someone grabbing you from behind).

The cerebellum throws out the unimportant, expected sensations (when’s the last time you were aware of how a pencil felt in your hand?), so that it can concentrate more on the unexpected sensations (why you’re likely to jump in surprise if someone unexpectedly grabs you from behind). A side effect of the cerebellum’s efficiency is that it’s very hard to tickle yourself!

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, some people believe they’ve identified one area of your body where it is possible to tickle yourself: the roof of your mouth. Give it a try! Does it work? Experts believe it may be possible to tickle yourself by touching the roof of your mouth, because most people aren’t used to touching the roof of their mouth!

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    • We’re so glad you enjoyed today’s ticklish Wonder, Mteam132! We are amazed at the power of the brain- how cool! Thank you for sharing your very patriotic prediction for tomorrow’s Wonder! We look forward to WONDERing with you then! :)

  1. I always try to tickle myself but it never works. And when I am at my friend’s house she always gives me my medicine! She is super hilarious, and always make me laugh.

    • Hey there, Katybug3000! It sounds like you have learned all about the power of the brain, and why we can’t tickle ourselves very easily! We are so glad you shared your comment about friendship– laughter is a big part of great friendship! :)

  2. Yesterday my friend Tristen and I were trying too steal each others stuffed animals and Tristen just started tickling me and we dropped our stuffed animals and it was a TICKLE FIGHT.

    • What a great connection to our Wonder today, Kate! It sounds like you and Tristen had a great time together– sometimes tickle fights break out in an instant! We are so happy that you visited us today, and we can’t wait to Wonder with you again soon! Have a great time giggling! :)

  3. Thougths: I found that it was interesting to know that your brain knows what is going to happen before it happens. (Cristian) I thought it was intersting to learn that the top of your mouth can be ticklish. (Arturo)

    Connections: This reminds me of when my sister tickled me because she was trying to be funny. (Isaiah) This reminds me of the time my cousin tickled herself because most people can tickle themselves. (Shalize)

    Predictions: What is Patriot’s Day? (Jake) What were patriots? (Luis) What is the most popular anthem? (Briahna) Where is Boston? (Andrew) How many flags have been made in the world? (Jaaron)

    • How about the brain– isn’t it a super cool part of the body to Wonder about, Mrs. Hess’ Class?! We are fascinated to learn that the brain can anticipate what is going to happen, just like Cristian mentioned! We have tested out Arturo’s thoughts, too… the roofs of our mouths are ticklish! :)

      Isaiah and Shalize, we love your connections! You’ve got us giggling at all this talk about tickling! :)

      There are so many great Wonder predictions today! Thank you for sharing yours Jake, Luis, Briahna, Andrew and Jaaron! We think you’re getting warm…! :)

  4. Comments: Adam – I like the many synonyms used for laughing in this article. Jake- I never knew most people can’t tickle themselves. Louis – I never knew the roof of your mouth is ticklish.

    Predictions: American Flag, Bald Eagle, Soliders, Colors Red, white and blue!

    • Hello to our Wonder Friends in Miss Marsico’s Class! Thank you for visiting us and sharing your awesome comments! Adam, Jake and Louis, it sounds like you learned a few new things today- how great! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about today’s ticklish Wonder! Hehe! :)

      We are very excited to read your predictions for tomorrow’s Wonder, too! HOORAY for you– you’re very close! :)

  5. Thoughts, Connections, Questions: Hayden- How does our brain predict our actions? Bryan- How can the roof of the mouth be ticklish? Sierra- My sister was tickling my nephew and he was laughing really hard!

    Predictions: David- When was the first 4th of July? Hayden- What does the 4th of July represent? Michael- Why did they make fireworks? Mia- Why did they make the American flag? Bryan- Why do we shoot fireworks on the 4th of July? Samantha- Who made fireworks? Aaliyah- Why is the 4th of July a holiday? Cassie- When were the first fireworks made? Stephanie- Why do we celebrate the 4th of July?

    • Good morning, Mrs. VanDusen’s Class! Isn’t the brain so cool? We are still WONDERing about how it can anticipate what we’re going to… but it is the center of all information for our body! We bet you’ll enjoy this Wonder, too… #878– Are You Left- or Right-Brained? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/are-you-left-or-right-brained/

      Hayden, Bryan, Sierra, and Stephanie, thank you for sharing your thoughts and connections! It sounds like you’ve all been thinking of times that tickling has taken over… and laughter started!

      Wonder Friends, check out Wonder #274– Who Made the American Flag? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/who-made-the-american-flag/ Your guesses are awesome– and so very close! Thanks for using your imaginations, Stephanie, Bryan, Aaliyah, David, Mia, and Hayden! :)

  6. Hi Wonderopolis!

    One of our students noticed that when he tickles the roof of his mouth, it always tickles, no matter if he has touched it before or not! We didn’t know when you touch the roof of your mouth it would tickle. For some people it didn’t tickle that much, but for others, it was ticklish! Some people noticed when we use our tongue on the roof of our mouth that tickles too.
    We didn’t know that you could tickle yourself!

    We predict tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be about all the patriotic songs, the American flag, the Patriots, the president, or the army.

    • Great observations today, Froggy 1! We are glad you’ve been comparing and contrasting the tolerance for tickling (wow, that was a tongue-twister)! It sounds like some of our Wonder Friends are super ticklish, while others aren’t too ticklish! How interesting! :)

      Thank you for sharing your patriotic predictions… we are so excited to Wonder with you tomorrow! Have a WONDERful Wednesday! :)

  7. What about tickling your feet? We talked about how we can tickle our own feet and make ourselves laugh! :)

    • Another great example, Ms. Burns’ Class! We can’t forget about the feet! For some, that’s a super ticklish spot… but for others, it’s not a big deal. How interesting– our bodies (and ticklish tendencies) are so very different! From top to bottom, we can be ticklish! Thanks for making us smile today, Wonder Friends! :)

  8. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Giggle! Giggle! Giggle!
    As we like to tickle
    the roof of our mouth.
    Ha! Ha! Ha!
    As we laugh out loud.

    Have a Wonderful day!

    • Good morning, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Bowes’ Second Grade! We LOVE your ticklish poem in honor of today’s Wonder… and just in time for National Poetry Month, too! How exciting! We’re happy to know that there is lots of laughter in your second grade class today! HOORAY for you! :)

  9. Kaylin says she can’t tickle herself. Juatin said he also can’t tickle himself. Mia said the only place you can tickle yourself is roof of mouth. Mr. Flinn said that you can stop a brain freeze by putting your tongue to the roof of your mouth? Gage said his mom and dad can tickle really hard. Samantha can tickle herself. Emily said she can’t tickle herself.

    Can Tickle Self: 5 students
    Can’t Tickle Self: 15 students

    Delani said she kind of can tickle herself.

    • Good morning, Wonder Friends in Mr. Flinn’s SUPER Kindergarten Class! It’s so neat that you did a tickling poll today! It sounds like we’ve got some tickling experts on hand if we ever have tickling questions… and what a great connection to the roof of your mouth– a brain freeze is no fun at all, but the roof of your mouth is so warm that your tongue will be much happier there! We’ve even got a Wonder about it: #92– Why Do You Get Ice Cream Headaches? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-you-get-ice-cream-headaches/ :)

      Thank you so much for sharing your comment today, Kaylin, Juatin, Justin, Mia, Gage, Samantha and Emily! You ROCK! :)

  10. Hi! Yes, you can tickle yourself! Sometimes when I want a good laugh, I tickle myself and see how long it takes for me to laugh. Thank you for today’s wonder! :) ;)

    • Berkleigh, that sounds like a great way to make yourself smile! We like your style, Wonder Friend! Thanks for telling us how you use tickling to satisfy your need to chuckle! :)

  11. -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

    That Was Cute!!!


    Where Was The Wonder For Tomorrow?!!! I Didn’t See It!!!


    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Max! We’re glad you enjoyed today’s Wonder– it makes us giggle! We hope you’ll share your guess with us…
      Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is especially patriotic! :)

    • Hooray, we’re so glad you learned something new with us, Sam, especially since you’ve been WONDERing about tickling for a while! We Wonder if you have tried tickling your own feet? Some other friends suggested it, and for some of us, it worked! :)

  12. What a fun Wonder!

    What we learned:
    One thing I learned is that my brain has been divided into parts and one of them is the cerebellum. – Kyree

    I learned that the cerebellum can take away the feel of your own touch because it knows what’s coming. – Hagen

    Predictions: New England Patriots – Justin
    The Star Spangled Banner – Leanna

    What we wonder:
    How long after you get hurt does it take to feel pain? – Marah
    Why are brains wrinkled? – Allison

    Mrs. Ross – Is laughter contagious?

    • Good afternoon, Wonder Friends Tyler and Hamnah! Thank you for visiting us today! :)

      Tyler, we know some Wonder Friends who are ticklish- just like you! We think it’s so interesting to Wonder about being tickled… it’s a difficult feeling to describe! :)

      Hamhah, we are so glad you have been WONDERing with us today! Are you ticklish? We Wonder if you have tried tickling the roof of your mouth? :)

  13. Goodafternoon WONDER-friends!

    We did an experiment to see if anyone could tickle themselves. As it turns out, a lot of us could! It was a very cool experiment!

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about celebrating our upcoming holiday, Memorial Day!

    • Good afternoon, Wonder Friends in Ms. Moreland’s 3rd Grade Class! What a fun way to Wonder– we’re so excited to hear about your tickling experiment! We bet you all learned a lot from one another! What a great way to celebrate Wonder Wednesday! HOORAY for you! :)

      Thank you for sharing your awesome predictions for the next Wonder… we think you’re close! :)

  14. Thanks for such a great wonder!! We loved tickling the roofs of our mouths. We have few questions!!
    1. Why does tickling cause us to laugh so hard?
    2. Why is it called tickling?
    3. Can you tickle animals?
    4. Why is it so hard to breathe when you are being tickled?

    Thank you!!

    • Good afternoon, Mrs. Piccioni’s Second Graders! Thank you for sharing your comments and questions with us today! What a fun Wonder! :)

      While we don’t have all the answers for the ticklish habits we develop, we do know that the body is a very interesting thing to Wonder about! We hope you’ll do some research of your own about animals, tickling and how your body reacts! Have you ever run really fast and you felt your heart beating faster and faster? The same thing can happen when someone tickles you, which makes it feel like it’s harder to breathe. Your lungs are working overtime! :)

      Thanks for sharing your SUPER questions on this WONDERful Wednesday! :)

  15. Really surprised at your assertion that very few people can self-tickle. I do it all the time. Definitely a small wonder worth celebrating, though.
    I enjoy your blog, especially since we share the same focus! Thanks for the good work you’re doing to encourage awareness, curiosity and wonder.

    • Hey there, Jeffrey, we are learning that many of our Wonder Friends can tickle themselves! It’s so great to learn something new! We are so glad you stopped by Wonderopolis and shared your thoughts- we are happy to encourage Wonder and imagination, just like you! Have a WONDERful Wednesday! :)

    • WOW, how fun, Mrs. Hopping’s Class! We’re so glad that you tested out the tickling theory in your class today! We are so glad to have awesome Wonder Friends like all of you! Thanks for sharing your comment! :)

  16. Dear wonderopolis,
    I tickled myself but I did not laugh at all but I realized if you tickle your roof in side your mouth it will tickle. I think tomorrow’s wonder is going to be about dogs and I think tomorrow’s wonder is going to be about cats.


    Students from Ms. H’s Class

    • We’re so glad you tried tickling yourself today, Wonder Friends from Ms. H’s Class! How interesting that different parts of your body tickle better than others! WOW!

      We love your predictions for tomorrow’s Wonder… perhaps we will see you again soon! :)

  17. I have always wondered why we cant tickle ourselves now I know. I think it’s cool that our brain can function like that.

    • HOORAY, you’ve learned something new with us today! That’s great, Wonder Friend Brooke! We think the brain is so amazing- it can even anticipate what is going to happen! :)

  18. I always wondered why I couldn’t tickle myself. It was very interesting to learn about that. I don’t like being tickled, just because it bothers me but when I get to tickle somebody I think it’s funny to watch them squirm and telling me to stop!!! I wonder why we call tickling, tickling? Who discovered tickling anyway?

    • We are so glad you’re WONDERing with us, Amme! While we’re not certain about who discovered tickling, we do know that it’s still very popular among siblings today! We bet “stop tickling me” is heard around the world on a regular basis! We are glad you learned something new with us today, keep up the great WONDERing! :)

  19. I have been wondering why you can’t tickle yourself and how come you can tickle your friends and have fun but when you tickle your self it isn’t fun?

  20. I have wondered why they say laughter is the best medicine. I have never thought about if I could tickle myself, but now this wonder has got me thinking about it. Can I really tickle myself?

    • Good evening, Wonder Friends Cindy and McKenna! We’re so happy you’re both WONDERing with us today! We learned that our brain can anticipate what the rest of our body will do, so we may not be as ticklish when we try to tickle ourselves!

      We hope you’ll try tickling the roof of your mouth with your tongue… or perhaps your feet will be ticklish?! :)

    • We’re glad you’ve been WONDERing about the ability to tickle yourself, Michael! Some people have no trouble tickling themselves, while others aren’t ticklish at all! It depends on your body and your brain, too! Thanks for sharing your comment and WONDERing with us today! :)

  21. Right now our class is actually learning about this sort of thing today!!! The kids enjoyed this wonder very much. -Mr. Jensens class

  22. I never could tickle myself. But I could tickle the top of my mouth though. The cerebellum throws out the unimportant stuff, I never knew that!

    • Isn’t it cool to think about how the brain makes decisions for the rest of the body, Wonder Friend Alex? Thanks for sharing what you learned and the connections you made to today’s Wonder! :)

  23. I can not tickle myself, but some people can tickle me. But I am not very easly tickled unless it is my Mom, Uncle, or my Dad I am tickled easly. I thought the video was CUTE!

    • It sounds like you know what tickles your funny bone, Aubree! While you might not be able to tickle yourself, your family members can make you chuckle and giggle! Thanks for sharing your comment and telling us about what you learned! :)

  24. I still wonder about how can you tickle yourself. Are there other things to do when you tickle yourself? I still wonder aboout this.

    • Great Wonder, Matt! We’re glad that you’ve been thinking about different ways that you can tickle yourself– our brains are so speedy that they can predict what the rest of our body will do! Keep up the great work and keep WONDERing! :)

    • We love your enthusiasm, Wonder Friend Joseph! Thanks for testing today’s Wonder– we hope to see you soon! The clue for the next Wonder of the Day® is Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is especially patriotic! :)

  25. I know I can’t tickle myself. The reason why is I have tried many times to tickle myself when I was two to three years old. Back then I thought it was funny. Now that I have a seven year old brother, I love to tickle him and sometimes get him to do things I don’t want to do.

    A couple predictions for the next few days:

    >When did the patriots win the revolutionary war?
    >Why do cats purr
    >Why are electronics so popular?
    >How do computers help us today?
    >What was it like back when your great great great grandparents were alive?
    >How do you think wonderopolis created this website?

    A quick thank you to the creators of this website. I really like it.

    • Hey there, True Cowgirl! Thanks for telling us all about your connections to today’s ticklish Wonder! It sounds like you’ve tried to tickle yourself, but instead you and your brother tickle one another! :)

      We LOVE your Wonder guesses for tomorrow- thanks for using your awesome imagination to form your predictions! You rock! See you soon, Wonder Friend! :)

    • Sami, we are glad you shared that you’re able to tickle yourself! It seems to be a great talent! Giggling is lots of fun… as they say, laughter is the best medicine! Thanks for sharing your comment and we look forward to WONDERing with you again soon! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your connection to today’s Wonder, Dillon! It sounds like your cousin has a great laugh– it might even be a contagious laugh! Thanks for making us smile, Wonder Friend! :)

  26. I think today’s wonder was weird. I did try tickling the roof of my mouth and it worked. My mom is very ticklish and she always tell me to stop when I tickle her.

    • Hey there, Maddy, we are glad you tested our theory! You can tickle yourself, even if it’s the roof of your mouth! Some of our Wonder Friends are very ticklish, just like your mom! We think it’s interesting to learn that the brain controls the rest of the body… so some brains might like to be tickled more than others! :)

  27. I really liked today’s wonder and I have tried to tickle myself and I never laugh. I think like you said our brain is used to it and someone else’s hands feels different than your own.

    • Great point, Wonder Friend Laura! You did a SUPER job summarizing what you learned today- tickling ourselves is hard work because our brain is so fast and smart! Thank you for sharing your comment and WONDERing with us today! :)

  28. That video was awkward and funny. The awkward part was when the baby knew that he was going to get tickled. The funny part was how the baby laughed. And what is the next wonder?

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Wonder Friend Mr. Awesome! While the baby might have expected to be tickled, it’s interesting to see how happy a tickle can make a baby! We have learned a lot about the power of the human brain and how it controls what we think and feel! Thanks for WONDERing with us today, we hope you’ll visit us for tomorrow’s Wonder! :)

  29. I have always wondered why when I tickle myself it doesn’t tickle I think it’s cool that our brains can work that way I wonder what wonder they will think of next?

    • Brittany, we are so happy to know that you’ve been WONDERing about tickling yourself- what great timing! We agree with you– the brain is so very cool to Wonder about! Isn’t it amazing to think about how the brain anticipates what the rest of our body can do? :)

      We think you’ll really enjoy tomorrow’s counting Wonder! :)

    • We’re sorry to hear your tickle fight didn’t work out as well as you had hoped, Wonder Friend Mason! We’re glad you learned about the brain and how it knows what the rest of the body will do– and now you know why it’s tough to tickle yourself! :)

    • We hope you’ll let us know how your tickling test goes, Wonder Friend Rayla! Some of us can tickle ourselves, while others could not do it if they tried their best! It’s all about our brains! :)

  30. If someone tells you that they are going to tickle you then you don’t laugh as much as when it is a surprise. This is because you laugh in a tickle because you are surprised if you are not surprised, you don’t laugh that much. This applies to the wonder of tickling yourself, because if your brain knows what you will get you don’t laugh, but you still get a little smile. :)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Wonder Friend Ovi! We are glad you’ve been thinking all about tickling and how the body reacts! There is definitely the element of surprise when it comes to tickling and laughing! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

    • HOORAY, Wonder Friend Cassidy! You learned something new with us today! We are glad you’re WONDERing and giggling with us– tickling is a cool thing to learn about! :)

    • Hey there, TJ, we’re so glad you could tickle yourself! What a great way to laugh and giggle, we are always in the mood for a smile! Thanks for sharing your comment with us, TJ! :)

  31. This wonder is an amazing one! I never believed that you can touch the top of your mouth and you will be surprised that you did that! Thanks Wonderopolis!

    • You are quite welcome, Wonder Friend Rowan! Thanks for sharing your awesome comment- we’re so excited you learned something new with us today! We Wonder if you’ve been able to tickle yourself yet? We always smile when a tickle is involved! :)

  32. Hi Wonderopolis! I find that if I slightly touch my leg or arm, it tickles! So now when there’s nobody there to Tickle Fight with me I can just do that and end up squealing with laughter!

    -Jordan Brown

    • Hi Jordan, we’re so excited that you shared your recent discovery with us! Now you can laugh whenever you’d like! You’re lucky, Jordan, some of us here at Wonderopolis don’t have the ability to tickle ourselves! :) What a fun experiment– we’re glad you learned about your tickling skills! We Wonder where the phrase “squealing with laughter” came from… what do you think? :)

  33. I don’t think that’s true because if you very lightly drag your finger tip on the top of your mouth (in the inside of your mouth) it tickles.

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Can you tickle yourself?
  • What area of your body might you be able to tickle?
  • How can you tickle yourself mentally?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

We hope today’s Wonder of the Day taught you something new! Keep the learning going by checking out one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Go ahead. You know you want to. In fact, we bet that, as you read through today’s Wonder of the Day, you’ve already tried to tickle yourself. Did it work? Probably not. Or did it? Maybe you can tickle yourself a little bit. For example, some people have very ticklish feet. Even when they expect their feet to be tickled, they still can’t stand to have their feet touched. Are you like that? Are any of your friends or family members like that? If you are or know someone who is, maybe you CAN tickle yourself. Test it out and give it a try. Do you have any ticklish spots that just drive you crazy?
  • If you’re in the mood to laugh, you don’t need to tickle yourself physically. Why not tickle yourself mentally instead. How can you do that? Check out these funny past Wonders of the Day for a good chuckle!
  • Up for a challenge? You learned today that your brain is extremely efficient. Why not dive deeper into your brain to learn more about it? Jump online to check out The Brain: A Road Map to the Mind to learn more about all the different parts of your brain. Which parts of your brain do you think are dominant? Which parts do you wish worked a little better?

Still Wondering

Science NetLinks’ What Is Laughter? lesson guides children through an online exploration of how the brain reacts to an external stimulus that is funny.

Wonder Categories/Tags

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is especially patriotic!

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