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Papers: 8 May 2021 - 14 May 2021


2021 May 12

J Neuropsychol

Neural basis of affective touch and pain: A novel model suggests possible targets for pain amelioration.


Meijer LL, Ruis C, van der Smagt MJ, Scherder EJA, Dijkerman CH
J Neuropsychol. 2021 May 12.
PMID: 33979481.


Pain is one of the most common health problems and has a severe impact on quality of life. Yet, a suitable and efficient treatment is still not available for all patient populations suffering from pain. Interestingly, recent research shows that low threshold mechanosensory C-tactile (CT) fibres have a modulatory influence on pain. CT-fibres are activated by slow gentle stroking of the hairy skin, providing a pleasant sensation. Consequently, slow gentle stroking is known as affective touch. Currently, a clear overview of the way affective touch modulates pain, at a neural level, is missing. This review aims to present such an overview. To explain the interaction between affective touch and pain, first the neural basis of the affective touch system and the neural processing of pain will be described. To clarify these systems, a schematic illustration will be provided in every section. Hereafter, a novel model of interactions between affective touch and pain systems will be introduced. Finally, since affective touch might be suitable as a new treatment for chronic pain, possible clinical implications will be discussed.