Being gently caressed by another person is both a physical and an emotional experience. But the way we are touched and the reaction this elicits in the brain are a science of their own.
The Soft Brush Test
Researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology at the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy have studied how the brain reacts to caresses. Volunteers were given MRI scans to measure blood flows in the brain while being stroked either slowly or quickly with a soft brush.
Same reaction via video
Not unexpectedly, the brain reacted most strongly to the slow strokes. More surprising results emerged when the volunteers instead watched videos of another person being caressed.
"The aim was to understand how the brain processes information from sensual contact, and it turned out that the brain was activated just as quickly when the volunteers got to watch someone else being caressed as when they were being caressed themselves," says India Morrison, one of the researchers behind the study. “Even when we are only watching sensual skin contact, we can experience its emotional meaning without actually feeling the touch directly."
Love or fight?
As a comparison, the volunteers also got to watch a video where a hand caresses an inanimate object, and in this case the brain was not activated anywhere near as strongly.
So what do these results mean?
“They indicate that our brain is wired in such a way that we can feel and process other people’s sensations, which could open up new ways of studying how we create empathy," says Morrison. “It's important for us as people to understand the significance of different types of touch – to know whether two people are in a relationship or are about to start a fight.”
The study has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.Bibliographic data:
Authors: India Morrison1, Malin Björnsdotter,Håkan OlaussonFor more information, please contact: India Morrison
Helena Aaberg | idw
New application for acoustics helps estimate marine life populations
16.01.2018 | University of California - San Diego
Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered
16.01.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
16.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering