Scientists find how sense of touch can trigger emotions to help individuals with autism

Scientists have found the reason why a sense of touch can trigger our emotions. Science World Report say that slowly conducting nerves in the skin that respond to gentle touch, reveal how sensing something can cause us to respond with our feelings.

The nerves responsible are called c-tactile afferents (CTs), and are similar to the nerves that detect pain. They have the opposite effect in that they relay events that are rewarding and pleasant.

Francis McGlone, one of the researchers said:

“The evolutionary significance of such a system for a social species is yet to be fully determined.

“But recent research is finding that people on the autistic spectrum do not process emotional touch normally, leading us to hypothesize that a failure of the CT system during neurodevelopment may impact adversely on the functioning of the social brain and the sense of self.”

Learning more about CTs could allow researchers to develop therapies for autistic individuals.

The findings are published in the journal Neuron.

The original article by Catherine Griffin on the Science World Report website can be read here