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Stroking modulates noxious-evoked brain activity in human infants

Gursul, Deniz; Goksan, Sezgi; Hartley, Caroline; Mellado, Gabriela Schmidt; Moultrie, Fiona; Hoskin, Amy; Adams, Eleri; Hathway, Gareth; Walker, Susannah; McGlone, Francis; Slater, Rebeccah


Deniz Gursul

Sezgi Goksan

Caroline Hartley

Gabriela Schmidt Mellado

Fiona Moultrie

Amy Hoskin

Eleri Adams

Susannah Walker

Francis McGlone

Rebeccah Slater


A subclass of C fibre sensory neurons found in hairy skin are activated by gentle touch [1] and respond optimally to stroking at ∼1–10 cm/s, serving a protective function by promoting affiliative behaviours. In adult humans, stimulation of these C-tactile (CT) afferents is pleasant, and can reduce pain perception [2]. Touch-based techniques, such as infant massage and kangaroo care, are designed to comfort infants during procedures, and a modest reduction in pain-related behavioural and physiological responses has been observed in some studies [3]. Here, we investigated whether touch can reduce noxious-evoked brain activity. We demonstrate that stroking (at 3 cm/s) prior to an experimental noxious stimulus or clinical heel lance can attenuate noxious-evoked brain activity in infants. CT fibres may represent a biological target for non-pharmacological interventions that modulate pain in early life.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 17, 2018
Journal Current Biology
Print ISSN 0960-9822
Publisher Elsevier (Cell Press)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 24
Pages R1380-R1381
APA6 Citation Gursul, D., Goksan, S., Hartley, C., Mellado, G. S., Moultrie, F., Hoskin, A., …Slater, R. (2018). Stroking modulates noxious-evoked brain activity in human infants. Current Biology, 28(24), R1380-R1381.
Keywords General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology; General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
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