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  • 1.
    Björnsdotter Åberg, Malin
    et al.
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Karolinska Inst, Sweden.
    Davidovic, Monika
    Univ Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Karjalainen, Louise
    Univ Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Starck, Goran
    Univ Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Olausson, Håkan
    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. Univ Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Wentz, Elisabet
    Univ Gothenburg, Sweden; Sahlgrens Univ Hosp, Sweden.
    Grey matter correlates of autistic traits in women with anorexia nervosa2018In: Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, ISSN 1180-4882, E-ISSN 1488-2434, Vol. 43, no 2, p. 79-86Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: Patients with anorexia nervosa exhibit higher levels of behaviours typically associated with autism-spectrum disorder (ASD), but the neural basis is unclear. We sought to determine whether elevated autistic traits in women with anorexia nervosa may be reflected in cortical morphology. Methods: We used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to examine regional grey matter volumes in high-resolution MRI structural brain scans in women with anorexia nervosa and matched healthy controls. The Autism-spectrum Quotient (AQ) scale was used to assess autistic traits. Results: Women with anorexia nervosa (n = 25) had higher AQ scores and lower bilateral superior temporal sulcus (STS) grey matter volumes than the control group (n = 25). The AQ scores correlated negatively with average left STS grey matter volume in women with anorexia nervosa. Limitations: We did not control for cognitive ability and examined only women with ongoing anorexia nervosa. Conclusion: Elevated autistic traits in women with anorexia nervosa are associated with morphometric alterations of brain areas linked to social cognition. This finding provides neurobiological support for the behavioural link between anorexia nervosa and ASD and emphasizes the importance of recognizing autistic traits in preventing and treating-anorexia nervosa.

  • 2.
    Case, Laura K.
    et al.
    NIH, MD 20892 USA.
    Laubacher, Claire M.
    NIH, MD 20892 USA.
    Olausson, Håkan
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
    Wang, Binquan
    NIH, MD 20892 USA.
    Spagnolo, Primavera A.
    NIAAA, MD 20892 USA.
    Catherine Bushnell, M.
    NIH, MD 20892 USA.
    Encoding of Touch Intensity But Not Pleasantness in Human Primary Somatosensory Cortex2016In: Journal of Neuroscience, ISSN 0270-6474, E-ISSN 1529-2401, Vol. 36, no 21, p. 5850-5860Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Growing interest in affective touch has delineated a neural network that bypasses primary somatosensory cortex (S1). Several recent studies, however, have cast doubt on the segregation of touch discrimination and affect, suggesting that S1 also encodes affective qualities. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to examine the role of S1 in processing touch intensity and pleasantness. Twenty-six healthy human adults rated brushing on the hand during fMRI. Intensity ratings significantly predicted activation in S1, whereas pleasantness ratings predicted activation only in the anterior cingulate cortex. Nineteen subjects also received inhibitory rTMS over right hemisphere S1 and the vertex (control). After S1 rTMS, but not after vertex rTMS, sensory discrimination was reduced and subjects with reduced sensory discrimination rated touch as more intense. In contrast, rTMS did not alter ratings of touch pleasantness. Our findings support divergent neural processing of touch intensity and pleasantness, with affective touch encoded outside of S1.

  • 3.
    Croy, Ilona
    et al.
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. University of Gothenburg, Sweden; Technical University of Dresden, Germany.
    Drechsler, Edda
    Technical University of Dresden, Germany.
    Hamilton, Paul
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Linköping University, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience (CSAN).
    Hummel, Thomas
    Technical University of Dresden, Germany.
    Olausson, Håkan
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Olfactory modulation of affective touch processing - A neurophysiological investigation2016In: NeuroImage, ISSN 1053-8119, E-ISSN 1095-9572, Vol. 135, p. 135-141Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Touch can be highly emotional, and depending on the environment, it can be perceived as pleasant and comforting or disgusting and dangerous. Here, we studied the impact of context on the processing of tactile stimuli using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) paradigm. This was achieved by embedding tactile stimulation in a variable olfactory environment. Twenty people were scanned with BOLD fMRI while receiving the following stimulus blocks: Slow stroking Touch, Civette odor (feces like), Rose odor, Touch + Civette, and Touch + Rose. Ratings of pleasantness and intensity of tactile stimuli and ratings of disgust and intensity of olfactory stimuli were collected. The impact of the olfactory context on the processing of touch was studied using covariance analyses. Coupling between olfactory processing and somatosensory processing areas was assessed with psychophysiological interaction analysis (PPI). A subjectively disgusting olfactory environment significantly reduced the perceived pleasantness of touch. The touch fMRI activation in the secondary somatosensory cortex, operculum 1 (OP1), was positively correlated with the disgust towards the odors. Decreased pleasantness of touch was related to decreased posterior insula activity. PPI analysis revealed a significant interaction between the OP1, posterior insula, and regions processing the disgust of odors (orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala). We conclude that the disgust evaluation of the olfactory environment moderates neural reactivity in somatosensory regions by upregulation of the OP1 and downregulation of the posterior insula. This adaptive regulation of affective touch processing may facilitate adaptive reaction to a potentially harmful stimulus. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

  • 4.
    Croy, Ilona
    et al.
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Technical University of Dresden, Germany.
    Luong, A.
    Sahlgrens University Hospital, Sweden.
    Triscoli, C.
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Linköping University, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience (CSAN). Sahlgrens University Hospital, Sweden.
    Hofmann, E.
    Technical University of Dresden, Germany.
    Olausson, Håkan
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
    Sailer, U.
    University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Interpersonal stroking touch is targeted to C tactile afferent activation2016In: Behavioural Brain Research, ISSN 0166-4328, E-ISSN 1872-7549, Vol. 297, p. 37-40Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    C tactile fibers are a specialized group of fibers innervating the non-glabrous skin that are tuned to light gentle stroking applied with velocities between 1 and 10 cm/s. Those fibers add to the sensation of interpersonal caressing and pleasant touch. It is unclear whether people spontaneously apply touch that is tuned to optimally activate those fibers. This was investigated in three studies. In study one, 45 participants (21.8 +/- 2.3 years, 24 women) were asked to stroke an artificial arm. In study two, 32 participants (28.3 +/- 8.7years, 16 women) were asked to stroke their partner. In study three, 11 parents (29.4 +/- 5.7years, 6 women) were asked to stroke their babies. Stroking velocity was tracked in all conditions. Stroking velocities were significantly slower in the partner touch and baby touch condition than in the artificial arm condition and all of the participants stroking their partner or baby used velocities that can activate C tactile fibers. We conclude that human social stroking is optimized for C tactile stimulation. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

  • 5.
    Davidovic, Monika
    et al.
    Univ Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Karjalainen, Louise
    Univ Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Starck, Göran
    Univ Gothenburg, Sweden; Sahlgrens Univ Hosp, Sweden.
    Wentz, Elisabet
    Univ Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Björnsdotter Åberg, Malin
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Univ Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Olausson, Håkan
    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. Univ Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Abnormal brain processing of gentle touch in anorexia nervosa2018In: Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, ISSN 0925-4927, E-ISSN 1872-7506, Vol. 281, p. 53-60Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Body image disturbance is a core symptom in anorexia nervosa (AN). Recent research suggests that abnormalities in touch perception may contribute to the disease mechanisms in AN. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study possible abnormalities in cortical processing of affective touch in AN. Gentle skin strokes were applied to the right forearm during fMRI scanning in women diagnosed with AN (n = 25) and in matched healthy controls (HC; n = 25). Blocks of skin stroking were alternated with blocks of static skin indentation. Participants provided ratings of the pleasantness of skin stroking stimulation. AN participants perceived skin stroking as significantly less pleasant than HC. We observed no group differences for the contrast between skin stroking and skin indentation in primary tactile regions. We did find, however, significantly less activity in the AN group in areas including left caudate nucleus. Also, we found less activity in the AN group in bilateral lateral occipital cortex for the main effect of skin stroking. Our results suggest that abnormal functioning of the dorsal striatum could affect evaluation of pleasant tactile stimuli, and that abnormal functioning of the lateral occipital cortex might be related to disturbed body image perception.

  • 6.
    Ellingsen, Dan-Mikael
    et al.
    Harvard University, MA 02215 USA; University of Oslo, Norway.
    Leknes, Siri
    University of Oslo, Norway.
    Loseth, Guro
    University of Oslo, Norway.
    Wessberg, Johan
    University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Olausson, Håkan
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
    The Neurobiology Shaping Affective Touch: Expectation, Motivation, and Meaning in the Multisensory Context2016In: Frontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 6, no 1986Article, review/survey (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Inter individual touch can be a desirable reward that can both relieve negative affect and evoke strong feelings of pleasure. However, if other sensory cues indicate it is undesirable to interact with the toucher, the affective experience of the same touch may be flipped to disgust. While a broad literature has addressed, on one hand the neurophysiological basis of ascending touch pathways, and on the other hand the central neurochemistry involved in touch behaviors, investigations of how external context and internal state shapes the hedonic value of touch have only recently emerged. Here, we review the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms responsible for the integration of tactile "bottom-up" stimuli and "top-down" information into affective touch experiences. We highlight the reciprocal influences between gentle touch and contextual information, and consider how, and at which levels of neural processing, top down influences may modulate ascending touch signals. Finally, we discuss the central neurochemistry, specifically the mu-opioids and oxytocin systems, involved in affective touch processing, and how the functions of these neurotransmitters largely depend on the context and motivational state of the individual.

  • 7.
    Joensson, Emma H.
    et al.
    University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Backlund Wasling, Helena
    University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Wagnbeck, Vicktoria
    University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Dimitriadis, Menelaos
    University of Medical Centre Groningen, Netherlands.
    Georgiadis, Janniko R.
    University of Medical Centre Groningen, Netherlands.
    Olausson, Håkan
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Anaesthetics, Operations and Specialty Surgery Center, Department of Clinical Neurophysiology.
    Croy, Ilona
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Technical University of Dresden, Germany.
    Unmyelinated Tactile Cutaneous Nerves Signal Erotic Sensations2015In: Journal of Sexual Medicine, ISSN 1743-6095, E-ISSN 1743-6109, Vol. 12, no 6, p. 1338-1345Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Introduction. Intrapersonal touch is a powerful tool for communicating emotions and can among many things evoke feelings of eroticism and sexual arousal. The peripheral neural mechanisms of erotic touch signaling have been less studied. C tactile afferents (unmyelinated low-threshold mechanoreceptors), known to underpin pleasant aspects of touch processing, have been posited to play an important role. MethodIn two studies, we investigated the relationship between C tactile activation and the perception of erotic and pleasant touch, using tactile brushing stimulation. In total, 66 healthy subjects (37 women, age range 19-51 years) were examined. In study 1 (n=20), five different stroking velocities were applied to the forearm and the inner thigh. The participants answered questions about partnership, mood, and touch. In study 2 (n=46), the same five stroking velocities were applied to the forearm. The participants answered questions about partnership, touch, and sexuality. ResultsBoth touch eroticism and pleasantness were rated significantly higher for C tactile optimal velocities compared with suboptimal velocities. No difference was found between the ratings of the thigh and the forearm. The velocity-dependent rating curves of pleasantness, intensity, and eroticism differed from each other. Pleasantness was best explained by a quadratic fit, intensity by a linear fit, and eroticism by both. A linear transformation of pleasantness and intensity predicted the observed eroticism ratings reliably. Eroticism ratings were negatively correlated with length of relationship. ConclusionTouch was rated most erotic when perceived as pleasant and weak. In human hairy skin, perception of pleasantness is correlated with the firing rate of C tactile afferents, and perception of intensity is correlated with the firing rate of A afferents. Accordingly, eroticism may be perceived most readily for touch stimuli that induce high activity in C tactile fibers and low activity in A fibers. Jonsson EH, Backlund Wasling H, Wagnbeck V, Dimitriadis M, Georgiadis JR, Olausson H, and Croy I. Unmyelinated tactile cutaneous nerves signal erotic sensations. J Sex Med 2015;12:1338-1345.

  • 8.
    Jonsson, Emma H.
    et al.
    Univ Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Kotilahti, Kalle
    Aalto Univ, Finland.
    Heiskala, Juha
    Univ Helsinki, Finland.
    Wasling, Helena Backlund
    Univ Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Olausson, Håkan
    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. Univ Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Croy, Ilona
    Tech Univ Dresden, Germany.
    Mustaniemi, Hanna
    Aalto Univ, Finland.
    Hiltunen, Petri
    Aalto Univ, Finland.
    Tuulari, Jetro J.
    Univ Turku, Finland.
    Scheinin, Noora M.
    Univ Turku, Finland; Turku Univ Hosp, Finland.
    Karlsson, Linnea
    Univ Turku, Finland; Turku Univ Hosp, Finland.
    Karlsson, Hasse
    Univ Turku, Finland; Turku Univ Hosp, Finland.
    Nissila, Ilkka
    Aalto Univ, Finland.
    Affective and non-affective touch evoke differential brain responses in 2-month-old infants2018In: NeuroImage, ISSN 1053-8119, E-ISSN 1095-9572, Vol. 169, p. 162-171Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Caressing touch is an effective way to communicate emotions and to create social bonds. It is also one of the key mediators of early parental bonding. The caresses are generally thought to represent a social form of touching and indeed, slow, gentle brushing is encoded in specialized peripheral nerve fibers, the C-tactile (CT) afferents. In adults, areas such as the posterior insula and superior temporal sulcus are activated by affective, slow stroking touch but not by fast stroking stimulation. However, whether these areas are activated in infants, after social tactile stimulation, is unknown. In this study, we compared the total hemoglobin responses measured with diffuse optical tomography (DOT) in the left hemisphere following slow and fast stroking touch stimulation in 16 2-month-old infants. We compared slow stroking (optimal CT afferent stimulation) to fast stroking (non-optimal CT stimulation). Activated regions were delineated using two methods: one based on contrast between the two conditions, and the other based on voxel-based statistical significance of the difference between the two conditions. The first method showed a single activation cluster in the temporal cortex with center of gravity in the middle temporal gyrus where the total hemoglobin increased after the slow stroking relative to the fast stroking (p = 0.04 uncorrected). The second method revealed a cluster in the insula with an increase in total hemoglobin in the insular cortex in response to slow stroking relative to fast stroking (p = 0.0005 uncorrected; p = 0.04 corrected for multiple comparisons). These activation clusters encompass areas that are involved in processing of affective, slow stroking touch in the adult brain. We conclude that the infant brain shows a pronounced and adult-like response to slow stroking touch compared to fast stroking touch in the insular cortex but the expected response in the primary somatosensory cortex was not found at this age. The results imply that emotionally valent touch is encoded in the brain in adult-like manner already soon after birth and this suggests a potential for involvement of touch in bonding with the caretaker.

  • 9.
    Lee, In-Seon
    et al.
    Kyung Hee University, South Korea; University of Tubingen, Germany; University of Tubingen, Germany; University of Tubingen, Germany.
    Lee, Bombi
    Kyung Hee University, South Korea.
    Park, Hi-Joon
    Kyung Hee University, South Korea.
    Olausson, Håkan
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Anaesthetics, Operations and Specialty Surgery Center, Department of Clinical Neurophysiology.
    Enck, Paul
    University of Tubingen, Germany.
    Chae, Younbyoung
    Kyung Hee University, South Korea.
    A new animal model of placebo analgesia: involvement of the dopaminergic system in reward learning2015In: Scientific Reports, ISSN 2045-2322, E-ISSN 2045-2322, Vol. 5, no 17140Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We suggest a new placebo analgesia animal model and investigated the role of the dopamine and opioid systems in placebo analgesia. Before and after the conditioning, we conducted a conditioned place preference (CPP) test to measure preferences for the cues (Rooms 1 and 2), and a hot plate test (HPT) to measure the pain responses to high level-pain after the cues. In addition, we quantified the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and c-Fos in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) as a response to reward learning and pain response. We found an enhanced preference for the low level-pain paired cue and enhanced TH expression in the VTA of the Placebo and Placebo + Naloxone groups. Haloperidol, a dopamine antagonist, blocked these effects in the Placebo + Haloperidol group. An increased pain threshold to high-heat pain and reduced c-Fos expression in the ACC were observed in the Placebo group only. Haloperidol blocked the place preference effect, and naloxone and haloperidol blocked the placebo analgesia. Cue preference is mediated by reward learning via the dopamine system, whereas the expression of placebo analgesia is mediated by the dopamine and opioid systems.

  • 10.
    Lee, Ye-Seul
    et al.
    Kyung Hee Univ, South Korea.
    Sehlstedt, Isac
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
    Olausson, Håkan
    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.
    Jung, Won-Mo
    Kyung Hee Univ, South Korea.
    Wallraven, Christian
    Korea Univ, South Korea.
    Chae, Younbyoung
    Kyung Hee Univ, South Korea.
    Visual and physical affective touch delivered by a rotary tactile stimulation device: A human psychophysical study2018In: Physiology and Behavior, ISSN 0031-9384, E-ISSN 1873-507X, Vol. 185, p. 55-60Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The discovery that pleasant touch is coded by C-tactile fibers has generated considerable research interest and increased understanding of the skin as a channel for social information via cutaneous senses. However, no study has differentiated between the pleasant response to visual and tactile non-human stimulations. Our study investigated pleasant touch in which the visual and haptic touch information was obtained from an affective, but non-social experience, by a custom-built non-human device. Participants (n = 19) received soft brush strokes on their lower left arm delivered by a rotary tactile stimulator (physical session) or watched a video of an arm being stroked by a rotary tactile stimulator (visual session). The brush strokes were delivered at the same velocities (0.3, 1, 3, 10, 30 cm/s) and force (0.4 N) in both sessions. After each trial, participants rated the pleasantness of the touch. Analysis of variance was used to assess the effects of velocity and modality (visual touch vs. physical touch) on the pleasantness rating. Participants rated strokes between 1 and 10 cm/s as most pleasant under both conditions. The pleasantness rating patterns differed significantly among velocities; however, no significant differences were found between modalities. Visual and physical (without human-to-human interaction) touch elicited similar behavioral responses, including an inverted U-shaped perception of pleasantness. These findings suggest that the pleasantness of touch is influenced by the velocity of the strokes in both visual and physical touch with a non-human stimulation.

  • 11.
    Mayo, Leah
    et al.
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
    Lindé, Johan
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
    Olausson, Håkan
    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.
    Heilig, Markus
    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.
    Morrison, India
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
    Putting a good face on touch: Facial expression reflects the affective valence of caress-like touch across modalities2018In: Biological Psychology, ISSN 0301-0511, E-ISSN 1873-6246, Vol. 137, p. 83-90Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

  • 12.
    McGlone, Francis
    et al.
    Liverpool John Moores University, England University of Liverpool, England .
    Wessberg, Johan
    University of Gothenburg, Sweden .
    Olausson, Håkan
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Anaesthetics, Operations and Specialty Surgery Center, Department of Clinical Neurophysiology.
    Discriminative and Affective Touch: Sensing and Feeling2014In: Neuron, ISSN 0896-6273, E-ISSN 1097-4199, Vol. 82, no 4, p. 737-755Article, review/survey (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The multimodal properties of the human somatosensory system continue to be unravelled. There is mounting evidence that one of these submodalities-touch-has another dimension, providing not only its well-recognized discriminative input to the brain, but also an affective input. It has long been recognized that touch plays an important role in many forms of social communication and a number of theories have been proposed to explain observations and beliefs about the "power of touch." Here, we propose that a class of low-threshold mechanosensitive C fibers that innervate the hairy skin represent the neurobiological substrate for the affective and rewarding properties of touch.

  • 13.
    Perini, Irene
    et al.
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
    Morrison, India
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
    Olausson, Håkan
    Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Anaesthetics, Operations and Specialty Surgery Center, Department of Clinical Neurophysiology.
    Seeking pleasant touch: neural correlates of behavioral preferences for skin stroking2015In: Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, ISSN 1662-5153, E-ISSN 1662-5153, Vol. 9, no 8Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Affective touch is a dynamic process. In this fMRI study we investigated affective touch by exploring its effects on overt behavior. Arm and palm skin were stroked with a soft brush at five different velocities (0.3, 1, 10, 3, and 30 cm s(-1)), using a novel feedback-based paradigm. Following stimulation in each trial, participants actively chose whether the caress they would receive in the next trial would be the same speed ("repeat") or different ("change"). Since preferred stroking speeds should be sought with greater frequency than non-preferred speeds, this paradigm provided a measure of such preferences in the form of active choices. The stimulation velocities were implemented with respect to the differential subjective pleasantness ratings they elicit in healthy subjects, with intermediate velocities (1, 10, and 3 cm s(-1)) considered more pleasant than very slow or very fast ones. Such pleasantness ratings linearly correlate with changes in mean firing rates of unmyelinated low-threshold C-tactile (CT) afferent nerves in the skin. Here, gentle, dynamic stimulation optimal for activating CT-afferents not only affected behavioral choices, but engaged brain regions involved in reward-related behavior and decision-making. This was the case for both hairy skin of the arm, where CTs are abundant, and glabrous skin of the palm, where CTs are absent. These findings provide insights on central and behavioral mechanisms underlying the perception of affective touch, and indicate that seeking affective touch involves value-based neural processing that is ultimately reflected in behavioral preferences.

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