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

Krahe, C; Drabek, M; Paloyelis, Y; Fotopoulou, A; (2016) Affective touch and attachment style modulate pain: A laser-evoked potentials study. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences , 371 , Article 20160009. 10.1098/rstb.2016.0009. Green open access

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Abstract

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.

Type: Article
Title: Affective touch and attachment style modulate pain: A laser-evoked potentials study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0009
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0009
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1503720
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