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Social touch and human development

updated

One article on PainSci cites Cascio 2019: Does Massage Therapy Work?

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Social touch is a powerful force in human development, shaping social reward, attachment, cognitive, communication, and emotional regulation from infancy and throughout life. In this review, we consider the question of how social touch is defined from both bottom-up and top-down perspectives. In the former category, there is a clear role for the C-touch (CT) system, which constitutes a unique submodality that mediates affective touch and contrasts with discriminative touch. Top-down factors such as culture, personal relationships, setting, gender, and other contextual influences are also important in defining and interpreting social touch. The critical role of social touch throughout the lifespan is considered, with special attention to infancy and young childhood, a time during which social touch and its neural, behavioral, and physiological contingencies contribute to reinforcement-based learning and impact a variety of developmental trajectories. Finally, the role of social touch in an example of disordered development -autism spectrum disorder-is reviewed.

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