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Coding of pleasant touch by unmyelinated afferents in humans.

Journal article
Authors Line Sofie Löken
Johan Wessberg
India Morrison
Francis McGlone
Håkan Olausson
Published in Nature neuroscience
Volume 12
Issue 5
Pages 547-8
ISSN 1546-1726
Publication year 2009
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology
Pages 547-8
Language en
Keywords Action Potentials, physiology, Adaptation, Physiological, physiology, Affect, physiology, Afferent Pathways, physiology, Cerebral Cortex, physiology, Electrophysiology, Hair Follicle, innervation, physiology, Humans, Mechanoreceptors, physiology, Mechanotransduction, Cellular, physiology, Nerve Fibers, Unmyelinated, physiology, Perception, physiology, Physical Stimulation, methods, Reward, Sensory Receptor Cells, physiology, Skin, innervation, Skin Physiological Phenomena, Social Behavior, Touch, physiology
Subject categories Neurophysiology


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.

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