Advertisement

Social Touch

  • Alberto GallaceEmail author
  • Charles Spence
Chapter

Abstract

The more social aspects of touch, despite their relevance to numerous domains of human behavior, from cultural anthropology to cognitive neuroscience, and from virtual reality through to linguistics, have not been extensively studied by scientists. That is, psychologists and neuroscientists are only now beginning to uncover some of the neurocognitive mechanisms responsible for these important real-world interactions. In this chapter, we summarize the latest developments in this field of research. In particular, we highlight a number of studies where touch, no matter whether direct or mediated by technological devices, has been shown to affect our behavior, as well as our physiological reactions. We show how this sensory modality often acts as a powerful interface allowing us to interact socially and emotionally with the world around us. The available research also suggests that touch plays an important role in supporting our well-being.

Keywords

Touch Interpersonal Well-being Neuroscience Technology Social 

References

  1. Atkinson J, Braddick O (1982) Sensory and perceptual capacities of the neonate. In: Stratton P (ed) Psychobiology of the human newborn. John Wiley, London, pp 191–220Google Scholar
  2. Bales KL, & Carter CS (2003). Sex differences and developmental effects of oxytocin on aggression and social behavior in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Horm Behav 44:178–184CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bardzell J, Bardzell S (2011) “Pleasure is your birthright”: digitally enabled designer sex toys as a case of third-wave HCI. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI2011Google Scholar
  4. Bessou P, Burgess PR, Perl ER, & Taylor CB (1971) Dynamic properties of mechanoreceptors with unmyelinated (C) fibers. J Neuropsychol 34:116–131Google Scholar
  5. Björnsdotter M, Morrison I, & Olausson H (2010). Feeling good: On the role of C fiber mediated touch in interoception. Exp Brain Res 207:149–155CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  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 128:1571–1583CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bolognini N, Olgiati E, Xaiz A, Posteraro L, Ferraro F, Maravita A (2012) Touch to see: neuropsychological evidence of a sensory mirror system for touch. Cereb Cortex 24:276–286Google Scholar
  8. Bremner A, Lewkowicz D, Spence C (eds) (2012) Multisensory development. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Cascio C, Moana-Filho E, Guest S, Nebel MB, Weisner J, Baranek G, Essick G (2012) Perceptual and neural response to affective tactile texture stimulation in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism Res 5:231–244CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Castiello U, Becchio C, Zoia S, Nelini C, Sartori L, Blason L, D’Ottavio G, Bulgheroni M, Gallese V (2010) Wired to be social: the ontogeny of human interaction. PLoS One 5(10):e13199CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Cotton SR, Anderson WA, McCullough BM (2013) Impact of internet use on loneliness and contact with others among older adults: cross-sectional analysis. J Med Internet Res 15:e39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crusco AH, & Wetzel CG (1984). The Midas touch: The effects of interpersonal touch on restaurant tipping. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 10:512–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deroy O, Spence C. Synaesthesia reclassified: borderline cases of crossmodally-induced experiences. In: Deroy O (ed) Sensory blending: new essays on synaesthesia. Oxford University Press, Oxford (in press)Google Scholar
  14. Ditzen B, Neumman I, Bodenmann G, vonDawans B, Turner RA, Ehlert U, & Heinrichs M (2007). Effects of different kinds of couple interaction on cortisol and heart rate responses to stress in women. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 32, 565–574CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Eaton M, Mitchell-Bonair IL, Friedmann E (1986) The effect of touch on nutritional intake of chronic organic brain syndrome patients. J Gerontol 41:611–616CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Edelmann MN, Demers CH, & Auger AP (2013). Maternal touch moderates sex differences in juvenile social play behavior. PLoS ONE, 8(2): e57396. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057396CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Essick GK, McGlone F, Dancer C, Fabricant D, Ragin Y, Phillips N, Jones T, Guest S (2010) Quantitative assessment of pleasant touch. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 34:192–203CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Field T (2001) Touch. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  19. Furlanetto T, Gallace A, Ansuini C, Becchio C (2014) Effects of arm crossing on spatial perspective taking. PLoS One 9(4):e95748CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Gallace A (2012) Living with touch: understanding tactile interactions. Psychologist 25:3–5Google Scholar
  21. Gallace A, Spence C (2010) The science of interpersonal touch: an overview. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 34:246–259CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Gallace A, Spence C (2014) In touch with the future: the sense of touch from cognitive neuroscience to virtual reality. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UKCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gallace A, Tan HZ, Spence C (2007) The body surface as a communication system: the state of the art after 50 years. Presence Teleop Virt 16:655–676CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ganster T, Eimler SC, Krämer NC (2012) Same same but different!? The differential influence of smiles and emoticons on person perception. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw 15:226–230CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Gazzola V, Spezio ML, Etzel JA, Castelli F, Adolphs R, & Keysers C (2012). Primary somatosensory cortex discriminates affective significance in social touch. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109:E1657–666Google Scholar
  26. Gordon I, Voos AC, Bennett RH, Bolling DZ, Pelphrey KA, Kaiser MD (2013) Brain mechanisms for processing affective touch. Hum Brain Mapp 34:914–922CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Graziano MS, Cooke DF (2006) Parieto-frontal interactions, personal space, and defensive behavior. Neuropsychologia 44:845–859CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Gulledge AK, Hill M, Lister Z, Sallion C (2007) Non-erotic physical affection: it’s good for you. In: L’Abate L (ed) Low-cost interventions to promote physical and mental health: theory, research, and practice. Springer, New York, pp 371–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Haans A, IJsselsteijn W (2006) Mediated social touch: a review of current research and future directions. Virt Real 9:149–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Haans A, de Nood C, IJsselsteijn W (2007) Investigating response similarities between real and mediated social touch: a first test. In: CHI Extended Abstracts 2007, pp 2405–2410Google Scholar
  31. Haans A, IJsselsteijn WA, Graus MP, Salminen JA (2008) The virtual Midas touch: helping behavior after a mediated social touch. In: Extended abstracts of CHI 2008. ACM Press, New York, pp 3507–3512Google Scholar
  32. Harlow HF (1958). The nature of love. Am Psychol 13:673–685CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Harlow HF, & Zimmerman RR (1959). Affectional responses in the infant monkey. Science 130: 421–432CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Hertenstein M, Weiss S (eds) (2011) The handbook of touch. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  35. Holt-Lunstad J, Birmingham WA, Light KC (2008) Influence of a “warm touch” support enhancement intervention among married couples on ambulatory blood pressure, oxytocin, alpha amylase, and cortisol. Psychosom Med 70:976–985CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Humphries AK, Cioe J (2009) Reconsidering the refractory period: an exploratory study of women’s post-orgasmic experiences. Can J Hum Sex 18(3):127–134Google Scholar
  37. Iggo A (1960). Cutaneous mechanoreceptors with afferent C fibres. J Physiol 152:337–353CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  38. Kitada R, Dijkerman C, Soo G, Lederman SJ (2010a) Representing human hands haptically or visually from first- vs. third-person perspectives. Perception 39:236–254CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Kitada R, Johnsrude IS, Kochiyama T, Lederman SJ (2010b) Brain networks involved in haptic and visual identification of facial expressions of emotion: an fMRI study. Neuroimage 49:1677–1689CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Komisaruk BR, Whipple B, Crawford A, Liu WC, Kalnin A, Mosier K (2004) Brain activation during vaginocervical self-stimulation and orgasm in women with complete spinal cord injury: fMRI evidence of mediation by the vagus nerves. Brain Res 1024:77–88CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Krüger TH, Haake P, Haverkamp J, Krämer M, Exton MS, Saller B, Leygraf N, Hartmann U, & Schedlowski M (2003). Effects of acute prolactin manipulation on sexual drive and function in males. Journal of Endocrinology, 179, 357–365CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Löken LS, Wessberg J, Morrison I, McGlone F, & Olausson H (2009). Coding of pleasant touch by unmyelinated afferents in humans. Nat Neurosci 12(5):547–548Google Scholar
  43. Ludington-Hoe SM, Morgan K, Abouefettoh A (2008) A clinical guideline for implementation of kangaroo care with premature infants of 30 weeks’ postmenstrual age. Adv Neonatal Care 8:S3–S23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Machulis K (2006) An open-source sexual HCI research platform. In: CHI 2006, April 22–27, Montreal, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  45. Mallick HN, Tandon S, Jagannathan NR, Gulia KK, Kumar VM (2007) Brain areas activated after ejaculation in healthy young human subjects. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 51:81–85PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Marco EJ, Khatibi K, Hill SS, Siegel B, Arroyo MS, Dowling AF, Neuhaus JM, Sherr EH, Hinkley LN, Nagarajan SS (2012) Children with autism show reduced somatosensory response: an MEG study. Autism Res 5:340–351CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Martin BAS (2012) A stranger’s touch: effects of accidental interpersonal touch on consumer evaluations and shopping time. J Consum Res 39:174–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McCabe C, Rolls ET, Bilderbeck A, McGlone FP (2008) Cognitive influences on the affective representation of touch and the sight of touch in the human brain. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 3:97–108CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  49. McGlone F, Olausson H, Vallbo A, Wessberg J (2007) Discriminitive touch and emotional touch. Can J Exp Psychol 61:173–183CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. McGlone FP, & Spence C (2010). Editorial: The cutaneous senses: Touch, temperature, pain/itch, and pleasure. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 34:145–147CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. McGlone F, Olausson H, Boyle JA, Jones-Gotman M, Dancer C, Guest S, Essick G (2012) Touching and feeling: differences in pleasant touch processing between glabrous and hairy skin in humans. Eur J Neurosci 35:1782–1788CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Montagu A (1978) Touching: the human significance of the skin. Harper & Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  53. Morrison I, Björnsdotter M, Olausson H (2011a) Vicarious responses to social touch in posterior insular cortex are tuned to pleasant caressing speeds. J Neurosci 31:9554–9562CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Morrison I, Löken LS, & Olausson H (2009). The skin as a social organ. Exp Brain Res 204:305–314CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Morrison I, Löken LS, Minde J, Wessberg J, Perini I, Nennesmo I, Olausson H (2011b) Reduced C-afferent fibre density affects perceived pleasantness and empathy for touch. Brain 134:1116–1126CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Moseley GL, Gallace A, Spence C (2012) Bodily illusion in health and disease: physiological and clinical perspectives and the concept of a cortical body matrix. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 36:34–46CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Olausson H, Cole J, Rylander K, McGlone F, Lamarre Y, Wallin BG, et al. (2008). Functional role of unmyelinated tactile afferents in human hairy skin: Sympathetic response and perceptual localization. Exp Brain Res 184:135–140CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Park S, Hong KE, Park EJ, Ha KS, Yoo HJ (2013) The association between problematic internet use and depression, suicidal ideation and bipolar disorder symptoms in Korean adolescents. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 47:153–159CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Rodgers C (2013) Why Kangaroo mother care should be standard for all newborns. J Midwifery Womens Health 58:249–252CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Schaefer M, Heinze HJ, Rotte M (2012) Embodied empathy for tactile events: interindividual differences and vicarious somatosensory responses during touch observation. Neuroimage 60:952–957CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Schaefer M, Rotte M, Heinze HJ, Denke C (2013) Mirror-like brain responses to observed touch and personality dimensions. Front Hum Neurosci 7:227. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00227 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  62. Schneiderman I, Zagoory-Sharon O, Leckman JF, Feldman R (2012) Oxytocin during the initial stages of romantic attachment: relations to couples’ interactive reciprocity. Psychoneuroendocrinology 37:1277–1285CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  63. Shermer M (2004). A bounty of science. Scientific American, 290(2), 33CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Spence C (2011) Assessing the consequences of tool-use for the representation of peripersonal space in humans. In: McCormack T, Hoerl C, Butterfill S (eds) Tool use and causal cognition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 220–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Spence C, Deroy O (2013) Crossmodal mental imagery. In: Lacey S, Lawson R (eds) Multisensory imagery: theory and applications. Springer, New York, pp 157–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Spies SLA, Margolin G (2014) Growing up wired: social networking sites and adolescent psychosocial development. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 17:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Teneggi C, Canzoneri E, di Pellegrino G, Serino A (2013) Social modulation of peripersonal space boundaries. Curr Biol 23:406–411CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Wagner J (2008) The making of second life. Harper Collins, LondonGoogle Scholar
  69. Ward M (2007) A very real future for virtual worlds. BBC News, 14 December. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7144511.stm
  70. Williams JR, Catania KC, & Carter CS (1992). Development of partner preferences in female prairie voles (Microtus ochragaster): The role of social and sexual experience. Horm Behav 26:339–349CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  71. Yilmaz U, & Aksu M (2000). The postejaculatory refractory period: a neurophysiological study in the human male. British Journal of Urology International, 85, 1093–1096CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Zappella M (1967) Placing and grasping of the feet at various temperatures in early infancy. Pediatrics 39:93–96PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of Experimental PsychologyOxford UniversityOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations