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Acute tryptophan depletion alters affective touch perception

Trotter, PD, Smith, SA, Moore, DJ, O'Sullivan, N, McFarquhar, MM, McGlone, FP and Walker, SC (2022) Acute tryptophan depletion alters affective touch perception. Psychopharmacology. ISSN 0033-3158

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Rationale Affiliative tactile interactions help regulate physiological arousal and confer resilience to acute and chronic stress. C-tactile afferents (CTs) are a population of unmyelinated, low threshold mechanosensitive cutaneous nerve fibres which respond optimally to a low force stimulus, moving at between 1 and 10 cm/s. As CT firing frequencies correlate positively with subjective ratings of touch pleasantness, they are hypothesised to form the first stage of encoding affiliative tactile interactions. Serotonin is a key modulator of social responses with known effects on bonding.Objectives The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of acutely lowering central serotonin levels on perceptions of CT-targeted affective touch.Methods In a double blind, placebo-controlled design, the effect of acute tryptophan depletion (ATD) on 25 female participants' ratings of directly and vicariously experienced touch was investigated. Psychophysical techniques were used to deliver dynamic tactile stimuli; some velocities were targeted to optimally activate CTs (1-10 cm/s), whereas other, faster and slower strokes fell outside the CT optimal range. Discriminative tactile function, cold pain threshold and tolerance were also measured. Results ATD significantly increased pleasantness ratings of both directly and vicariously experienced affective touch, increasing discrimination of the specific hedonic value of CT targeted velocities. While ATD had no effect on either tactile or cold pain thresholds, there was a trend for reduced tolerance to cold pain.Conclusions These findings are consistent with previous reports that depletion of central serotonin levels modulates neural and behavioural responsiveness to appetitive sensory signals.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: C-tactile afferent; Depression; Emotion; Pain; Serotonin; Social; Touch; Tryptophan; Psychiatry; 11 Medical and Health Sciences; 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media LLC
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 16 May 2022 11:12
Last Modified: 16 May 2022 11:15
DOI or ID number: 10.1007/s00213-022-06151-3
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/16853
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