Friday, September 06, 2013

The Skin as a Social Organ. Part 2e: Touch early, touch often

The paper, The skin as a social organ

Previous introductory blogpost to this series.    Preamble: Random thoughts on spas

Part 1: Dual nature of touch: as PTs, do we "get" this? Part 1a: Touch can be pleasant, rilling Part 1b: Vallbo on C-tactiles 

Part 2a: Different kinds of touch Part 2b: Proxemics Part 2c: The sad dearth of manual therapy aspects in reviews of interpersonal touch Part 2d: Learning to sit still, learning to behave, learning to not be connected to oneself

Next paragraph of the paper:

‘‘Protracted’’ touch, ‘‘dynamic’’ touch, and tickling can also have positive concomitants and outcomes in affiliative behavior. Holding a loved one’s hand can reduce the anxiety posed by an impending threat (Coan et al. 2006). Skin-to-skin contact has been shown to have clinical benefits for premature infants (Field 2001), as well as an analgesic effect in human babies undergoing minor tissuedamaging procedures (Gray et al. 2000). Stroking an infant can not only give rise to positive emotions in the baby, but can also modulate negative ones, compared to other forms of touch (Peláez-Nogueras et al. 1997). Tickling is a playful social act and is also seen in other mammals (Panksepp and Burgdorf 2003; Blakemore et al. 1998). It often gives rise to pilomotor responses like goosebumps, the elicitation of which is associated with the insula (Warren 2002). Interestingly, individuals with Asperger’s syndrome (associated both with social impairments and tactile hypersensitivity) rated the intensity and ‘‘tickliness’’ of a piece of foam on the palm as higher when the stimulus was applied by an experimenter than when the subjects touched their own palm with it (Blakemore et al. 2005)." 
  1. Coan JA, Schaefer HS, Davidson RJ (2006) Lending a hand: social regulation of the neural response to threat. Psychol Sci 17:1032–1039
  2. Gray L, Watt L, Blass EM (2000) Skin-to-skin contact is analgesic in healthy newborns. Pediatrics 105(1):e14
  3. Peláez-Nogueras M, Field TM, Gewirtz JL, Cigales M, Gonzalez A, Sanchez A et al (1997) The effects of systematic stroking versus tickling and poking on infant behavior. J Appl Dev Psychol 18:169–178
  4. Panksepp J, Burgdorf J (2003) ‘‘Laughing’’ rats and the evolutionary antecedents of human joy? Physiol Behav 79:533–547 (Full text)
  5. Warren J (2002) Goosebumps and the insula. Lancet 360:1978
  6. Blakemore S-J, Bristow D, Bird G, Frith C, Ward J (2005) Somatosensory activations during the observation of touch and a case of vision-touch synaesthesia. Brain 128:1571–1583 (Full text)
I think we could file this paragraph under "Skin is the outside of the brain." 
Touch is like brain food. I think the message is obvious: get those little meaning-maker brains going early in life. The more input they get in the context of emotional safety and pleasure, the better they're going to work later on. 

People often ask me if I can do dermoneuromodulation on myself. 

The answer is yes. If I can reach whatever part of my body is "hurting" me, without much struggle, and can pull my skin organ in a direction that alleviates whatever kinking might be going on in some vascular array inside some cutaneous nerve or other, and hold it there long enough for it to get over itself, then yes, it means I can do dermoneuromodulation on myself. 

The answer is no. I can't feed my own brain the way it can be fed by the careful handling of another; I want to relax, not have to think or do anything, produce any deliberate motor output, and use all my whole brain to just feel, and breathe, perceive and create yes-ciception. 

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