Affiliative Touch & Emotion Regulation

Funded by: Bial Foundation

The primary aim of this project is to explore whether CT mediated touch provides an innate neural signal cueing the presence of social support. If this is the case one would anticipate that it would aid emotion regulation and buffer individuals from stress. To test this hypothesis, we will use convergent psychophysiological techniques to differentiate between Parasympathetic Nervous System activity relating to relaxation and Sympathetic Nervous System activity relating to stress and emotional arousal. In addition, direct measurement of facial muscle activity will be used to assess emotional state.

Specifically we aim to determine whether: i) Trait differences in physiological arousal, as indexed by resting state HRV, are predictive of affective responses to CT optimal stroking touch. ii) CT optimal touch attenuates the startle response as has previously been shown in the visual domain by positively valenced environmental stimuli. iii) CT optimal touch facilitates emotional regulation by increasing parasympathetic nervous system activity in a stressfully arousing context.

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