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Putting a good face on touch: Facial expression reflects the affective valence of caress-like touch across modalities
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0645-4869
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Anaesthetics, Operations and Specialty Surgery Center, Department of Clinical Neurophysiology.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Local Health Care Services in Central Östergötland, Department of Psychiatry.
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2018 (English)In: Biological Psychology, ISSN 0301-0511, E-ISSN 1873-6246, Vol. 137, p. 83-90Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Touch plays a central role in interpersonal behavior, especially in its capacity to convey-and induce- changes in affect. Previous research has established that slow, caress-like stroking over the skin elicits positive subjective affective responses, with higher ratings of "pleasantness" compared to a faster-moving touch stimulus. Ratings of pleasantness are associated with increased activity of a distinct class of nerve fibers: C-tactile (CT) afferents. Here, we used facial electromyography (EMG) to determine if touch that optimally activates CT afferents also influences facial muscle activity believed to reflect changes in affect. We found that less pleasant, fast-moving stroking (30 cm/s) elicited robustly negative facial EMG responses, as indexed by stronger contraction of the corrugator muscle. In contrast, pleasant, slow-moving stroking (3 cm/s) that optimally activates CT afferents resulted in decreased negative facial affective responses, manifested as significant corrugator relaxation compared to fast stroking. Moreover, the facial tracking of affective valence during touch was supra-modal, with similar effects during both directly-experienced touch and viewing of touch videos. The results of this EMG study imply that touch that fails to optimally activate CT afferent produces a negative affective response, whereas pleasant, caress-like touch has not only subjective but expressive correlates, reflected in net positive affective changes in facial expression.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV , 2018. Vol. 137, p. 83-90
Keywords [en]
Touch; Emotion; C-tactile afferent; Facial expression
National Category
Physiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-151189DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2018.07.001ISI: 000442527600010PubMedID: 30003943OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-151189DiVA, id: diva2:1248623
Note

Funding Agencies|Swedish Research Council [FYF-2013-687]

Available from: 2018-09-17 Created: 2018-09-17 Last updated: 2019-05-01

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Olausson, Håkan

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Mayo, LeahLindé, JohanOlausson, HåkanHeilig, MarkusMorrison, India
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Center for Social and Affective NeuroscienceFaculty of Medicine and Health SciencesDepartment of Clinical NeurophysiologyDepartment of Psychiatry
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