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Affective touch and attachment style modulate pain: A laser-evoked potentials study

Krahé, C, Drabek, MM, Paloyelis, Y and Fotopoulou, A (2016) Affective touch and attachment style modulate pain: A laser-evoked potentials study. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371 (1708). ISSN 0962-8436

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Affective touch and cutaneous pain are two sub-modalities of interoception with contrasting affective qualities (pleasantness/unpleasantness) and social meanings (care/harm), yet their direct relationship has not been investigated. In 50 women, taking into account individual attachment styles, we assessed the role of affective touch and particularly the contribution of the C tactile (CT) system in subjective and electrophysiological responses to noxious skin stimulation, namely N1 and N2-P2 laser-evoked potentials. When pleasant, slow (versus fast) velocity touch was administered to the (non-CT-containing) palm of the hand, higher attachment anxiety predicted increased subjective pain ratings, in the same direction as changes in N2 amplitude. By contrast, when pleasant touch was administered to CT-containing skin of the arm, higher attachment anxiety predicted attenuated N1 and N2 amplitudes. Higher attachment avoidance predicted opposite results. Thus, CT-based affective touch can modulate pain in early and late processing stages (N1 and N2 components), with the direction of effects depending on attachment style. Affective touch not involving the CT system seems to affect predominately the conscious perception of pain, possibly reflecting socio-cognitive factors further up the neurocognitive hierarchy. Affective touch may thus convey information about available social resources and gate pain responses depending on individual expectations of social support. This article is part of the themed issue ‘Interoception beyond homeostasis: affect, cognition and mental health’.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Humans; Pain; Random Allocation; Physical Stimulation; Affect; Touch; Adult; Female; Male; Young Adult; Laser-Evoked Potentials; affective touch; attachment style; interoception; laser-evoked potentials; pain; Adult; Affect; Female; Humans; Laser-Evoked Potentials; Male; Pain; Physical Stimulation; Random Allocation; Touch; Young Adult; 06 Biological Sciences; 11 Medical and Health Sciences; Evolutionary Biology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Royal Society, The
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2022 11:02
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2022 11:15
DOI or ID number: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0009
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17491
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