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Coding of pleasant touch by unmyelinated afferents in humans

updated

Tags: biology, sensation & touch, massage, neurology, manual therapy, treatment

One article on PainSci cites Loken 2009: Does Massage Therapy Work?

PainSci notes on Loken 2009:

Bio-medicine.org reports: “Nerve signals that tell the brain that we are being slowly stroked on the skin have their own specialised nerve fibres in the skin. The discovery may explain why touching the skin can relieve pain.” This discovery is important to touch therapies, of course. It strongly implies that neurological responses to touch have considerable complexity.

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.

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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