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Unmyelinated tactile afferents have opposite effects on insular and somatosensory cortical processing.

Journal article
Authors Håkan Olausson
Jonathan Cole
Åke Vallbo
Francis McGlone
Mikael Elam
Heidrun H Krämer
Karin Rylander
Johan Wessberg
M Catherine Bushnell
Published in Neuroscience letters
Volume 436
Issue 2
Pages 128-32
ISSN 0304-3940
Publication year 2008
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Pages 128-32
Language en
Keywords Afferent Pathways, physiology, Brain Mapping, Cerebral Cortex, blood supply, physiology, Emotions, physiology, Female, Gyrus Cinguli, blood supply, physiology, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, methods, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, methods, Male, Middle Aged, Nerve Fibers, Unmyelinated, physiology, Oxygen, blood, Physical Stimulation, methods, Psychophysics, Somatosensory Cortex
Subject categories Experimental brain research, Clinical neurophysiology, Neurophysiology, Neurology


A previous functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study of an A-beta deafferented subject (GL) showed that stimulation of tactile C afferents (CT) activates insular cortex whereas no activation was seen in somatosensory cortices. Psychophysical studies suggested that CT afferents contribute to affective but not to discriminative aspects of tactile stimulation. We have now examined cortical processing following CT stimulation in a second similarly deafferented subject (IW), as well as revisited the data from GL. The results in IW showed similar activation of posterior insular cortex following CT stimulation as in GL and so strengthen the view that CT afferents underpin emotional aspects of touch. In addition, CT stimulation evoked significant fMRI deactivation in somatosensory cortex in both subjects supporting the notion that CT is not a system for discriminative touch.

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