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Gentle touch perception: From early childhood to adolescence

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Ilona Croy
Isac Sehlstedt
Helena Backlund Wasling
Rochelle Ackerley
Håkan Olausson
Publicerad i Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Volym 35
Sidor 81-86
ISSN 1878-9293
Publiceringsår 2019
Publicerad vid Institutionen för neurovetenskap och fysiologi, sektionen för fysiologi
Psykologiska institutionen
Sidor 81-86
Språk en
Länkar doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2017.07.009
Ämnesord Affective, C-tactile, Children, Psychophysical, Somatosensory, Touch
Ämneskategorier Psykologi (exklusive tillämpad psykologi)


Affective touch plays an important role in children's social interaction and is involved in shaping the development of the social brain. The positive affective component of touch is thought to be conveyed via a group of unmyelinated, low-threshold mechanoreceptive afferents, known as C-tactile fibers that are optimally activated by gentle, slow, stroking touch. Touch targeting these C-tactile fibers has been shown to decrease the heart rate in infants. The current study investigated the relationship between age and psychophysical ratings in response to affective touch. A total of n = 43 participants (early childhood: aged 5-8 years, 9 girls, 12 boys; late childhood: aged 9-12 years, 12 girls, 10 boys) were presented with C-tactile optimal and sub-optimal stroking velocities and rated touch pleasantness on an affective pictorial scale. For both age groups, we found that children preferred C-tactile-targeted stimulation. A comparison with previously published data showed that the children's preference for C-tactile-targeted stimulation was similar to those obtained in adolescents and adults. We speculate that the effect of C-tactile-targeted touch, which is linked with pleasantness, shapes the children's preference for C-tactile over non-C-tactile-targeted stimulation, and that C-tactile afferent stimulation is important for social development.

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