Brief Communication | Published:

Coding of pleasant touch by unmyelinated afferents in humans

Nature Neuroscience volume 12, pages 547548 (2009) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

Pleasant touch sensations may begin with neural coding in the periphery by specific afferents. We found that during soft brush stroking, low-threshold unmyelinated mechanoreceptors (C-tactile), but not myelinated afferents, responded most vigorously at intermediate brushing velocities (1−10 cm s−1), which were perceived by subjects as being the most pleasant. Our results indicate that C-tactile afferents constitute a privileged peripheral pathway for pleasant tactile stimulation that is likely to signal affiliative social body contact.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    & Psychopharmacology (Berl.) 199, 457–480 (2008).

  2. 2.

    & Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 9, 314–320 (2008).

  3. 3.

    & J. Neurophysiol. 82, 2641–2648 (1999).

  4. 4.

    & J. Neurosci. 14, 1756–1765 (1994).

  5. 5.

    , , & J. Neurophysiol. 34, 116–131 (1971).

  6. 6.

    , & J. Neurophysiol. 81, 2753–2763 (1999).

  7. 7.

    et al. Nat. Neurosci. 10, 946–948 (2007).

  8. 8.

    et al. Nat. Neurosci. 5, 900–904 (2002).

  9. 9.

    , , & Biol. Psychiatry 56, 225–232 (2004).

  10. 10.

    Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 10, 59–70 (2009).

  11. 11.

    , & Neuroscientist 8, 111–121 (2002).

  12. 12.

    , , , & Emotion 6, 528–533 (2006).

  13. 13.

    et al. Exp. Brain Res. 184, 135–140 (2008).

  14. 14.

    & Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. published online, 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2008.10.004 (17 October 2008).

  15. 15.

    , , , & Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. published online, 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2008.09.011 (8 October 2008).

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank Å. Vallbo, U. Norrsell and M.C. Bushnell for kindly reading the manuscript and offering advice. We also thank K. Göthner, M. Evert and J. Lindholm for technical assistance. This work was supported by the Swedish Research Council, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Unilever and the Wenner-Gren foundation.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.

    • Line S Löken
    • , Johan Wessberg
    • , India Morrison
    •  & Håkan Olausson
  2. Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden.

    • Line S Löken
    • , India Morrison
    •  & Håkan Olausson
  3. Department of Neurological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.

    • Francis McGlone
  4. Sensation, Perception and Behaviour Group, Unilever R&D, Wirral, Cheshire, UK.

    • Francis McGlone

Authors

  1. Search for Line S Löken in:

  2. Search for Johan Wessberg in:

  3. Search for India Morrison in:

  4. Search for Francis McGlone in:

  5. Search for Håkan Olausson in:

Contributions

L.S.L., J.W., F.M. and H.O. designed the study. L.S.L. and J.W. carried out the microneurography experiments and analyzed the data. L.S.L. performed the psychophysical experiments. L.S.L., J.W., I.M. and H.O. wrote the paper. F.M. coordinated the construction of the robotic tactile stimulator.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Line S Löken or Håkan Olausson.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Text and Figures

    Supplementary Figures 1–4, Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary Methods and Discussion

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.2312