Medical News Today News Article: "Stroking The Skin Sends Signals Direct To The Brain, Deadens Pain Impulses
16 Apr 2009
The specialised nerve fibres in the skin are called CT nerves (C-tactile) and they travel directly to the areas in the brain that are important in the emergence of feelings.
'Basically the signals that tell the brain that we are being stroked on the skin have their own direct route to the brain, and are not blocked even if the brain is receiving pain impulses from the same area. In fact it's more the opposite, that the stroking impulses are able to deaden the pain impulses,' says Line Löken, postgraduate student in neurophysiology at the Sahlgrenska Academy.
Each individual nerve fibre is responsible for touch signals from roughly a square centimetre of skin. The research team used a specially-designed robot, which brushed over the exact area of skin for which a particular nerve fibre is responsible. The subjects were also asked to rate how pleasant or unpleasant they found the brushing.
'As the nerve signals that were sent in the CT nerves became more frequent, the subjects reported the experience as being increasingly pleasant. Of the skin nerves that we studied, it was only the CT nerves that had this strong link between the frequency of the signals and how pleasant it felt,' says researcher Johan Wessberg.
Journal: Nature Neuroscience
Title of the article: Coding of pleasant touch by unmyelinated afferents in humans
Authors: Line S. Löken, Johan Wessberg, India Morrisson, Francis McGlone, Håkan Olausson
The full text article is available on Nature Neuroscience's web page: http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nn.2312.html
By: Elin Lindström Claessen