Our touch system presents a complex network of afferents, where a multitude of sensations can be felt, from more simple facets like vibration to blended percepts such as wetness. The technique of microneurography permits recordings from single human afferents, via the insertion of an electrode into a peripheral nerve. The knowledge gained from this powerful approach can be combined with other techniques, such as neuroimaging and psychophysics, to provide new insights into human somatosensation. I will present an overview of my research on touch processes in humans, from encoding at the periphery to the interpretation of these signals in the brain Specifically, I will present work on how pleasant touch is signalled, in part from the activity of C-tactile afferents. These afferents are only found in hairy skin and respond optimally to a slow, gently stroke around skin temperature. Differences exist between the properties and mechanoreceptors present in the glabrous skin (e.g. the hands) and hairy skin, yet we can nevertheless feel a wide range of sensations all over our body. We believe that both discriminative (signalled by fast-conducting A-beta afferents) and affective touch (signalled by slowly-conducting C-tactile afferents) are necessary to experience the full range of touch.
- Rochelle Ackerley
- Hosted by
- School of Psychology
Dr M Chu
Ms Carolyn Porter (01224 272227)