For pianists and guitarists, small fingers are a curse. But a study published in the Journal of
on December 16, 2009, suggests that diminutive digits do have an advantage: they are more sensitive. The paper reports that sensory receptors called Merkel cells, which discern the texture and structure of materials pressed against the fingertip, are more closely packed on small fingers as compared with large ones. Because women tend to have smaller fingers than men, they are, in general, better able to distinguish the shapes of the things they feel. Indeed, compared with the men, the women in the study could more easily discern the orientation of thin grooves in a piece of plastic that had been pressed against their fingers.