Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 12, pp 3391–3403 | Cite as

Emotional visual stimuli affect the evaluation of tactile stimuli presented on the arms but not the related electrodermal responses

  • Roberta EtziEmail author
  • Massimiliano Zampini
  • Georgiana Juravle
  • Alberto Gallace
Research Article


Considering the wealth of recent studies on affective touch, to date, little research addressed the role of the other sensory modalities in the modulation of hedonic tactile perception. Here, we investigated the behavioral and electrodermal signature of the interaction between simultaneously presented visual and tactile stimuli. In three experiments, participants were presented with emotional pictures (international affective picture system; IAPS), while their forearm was gently stroked by means of different tactile textures (i.e., sandpaper, satin, tinfoil, abrasive sponge, and skin-to-skin contact). In Experiment 1, the participants evaluated the pleasantness of the tactile stimulation received, while in Experiment 2 they evaluated the pictures emotional valence. In Experiment 3 the participants rated the pleasantness, the smoothness and the softness of the textures; skin conductance responses (SCRs) were also measured. In sum, the results revealed that while the visual valence ratings were not modulated by the tactile stimulation, the hedonic and sensory tactile ratings were modulated by the visual presentation of both positively and negatively valenced pictures, as well as by neutral pictures. The modulatory effects occurring during visuo-tactile interactions might thus be not necessarily reciprocal. Moreover, the SCRs were not differently affected by the visuo-tactile or tactile conditions of stimulus presentation, suggesting a dissociation between behavioral and electrodermal effects in multisensory interactions.


Hedonic touch IAPS pictures Multisensory interaction Skin conductance response CT afferents 



We would like to thank Dr. Clara Piliego for help with data collection.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interests.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Milan Center for Neuroscience (NeuroMI)University of Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly
  2. 2.CIMeC, Center for Mind/Brain SciencesUniversity of TrentoRoveretoItaly
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and Cognitive ScienceUniversity of TrentoRoveretoItaly
  4. 4.ImpAct Team, U1028, INSERM, Lyon Neuroscience Research CenterLyonFrance

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