The Somatosensory & Affective Neuroscience Group, LJMU

The skin senses are a truly multisensory modality, with specific populations of cutaneous receptors & afferent nerve fibres coding for touch, temperature, pain, itch and ‘pleasure’.

Our group’s research interests span across the whole somatosensory range, and also includes cross-modal interactions with the chemical senses of taste and smell. Our interdisciplinary studies focus on the neural mechanisms as well as the affective and cognitive consequences of painful and pleasant cutaneous sensations, in both healthy and clinical populations.

We record from single afferent nerves using microneurography and study their central projections and function with a range of techniques from behavioural tasks to ultra-high-field fMRI.

We have a particular interest in a population of low threshold mechanosensitive c-fibres named C-tactile (CT) afferents.  Only recently discovered in humans, they respond most strongly to ‘gentle stroking touch’ and are hypothesised to underpin the rewarding properties of tactile social interactions and to play a critical role in the developing social brain.

The group is based in the school of Natural Sciences & Psychology, at Liverpool John Moores University, and is a part of the Research Centre for Brain & Behaviour and the Liverpool Neuroscience Group.


Cortex - A touching Sight: EEG/ERP correlates for the vicarious processing of affectionate touch

Professor Francis McGlone, & SomAffect collaborator Professor Annett Schirmer have published a research report in Cortex  - titled: A touching Sight: EEG/ERP correlates for the vicarious processing of affectionate touch.The article is available online now, and SomAffect is able to grant open ...

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Professor Francis McGlone on Touch - BBC One Breakfast

LJMU Neuroscience Professor Francis McGlone discusses the importance & role of "touch" in schools on BBC One Breakfast, a national morning news programme. [19th February 2017]

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PTUK 2018 Conference: Keynote by Francis McGlone

SomAffect Professor Francis McGlone was invited to give a keynote speech at the PlayTherapy UK 2018 Conference - titled "The Neurological Basis of Affective Touch".

PTUK have made both the keynote, and an interview available online, below.
Interview: Keynote: 

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NewScientist: Premature babies’ brains respond differently to gentle touching.

SomAffect's research with collaborators into gentle touch in premature infants has been featured in an article by the NewScientist by Linda Geddes.

While many premature babies experience pain, McGlone thinks that it is exposure to gentle touch ...

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A Touching Story – BNA Bulletin – Autumn 2017

A Touching Story - BNA Bulletin - Autumn 2017

The Autumn 2017 edition of the BNA Bulletin (free to all British Neuroscience Association Members!) which has just landed on the doormats, in-trays and inboxes of over 2000 people features a 2 page article on C-Tactile fibres, touch, ...

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Research supported by:

Medical Research Council Logo The Levehulme Trust Logo Bial Foundation Logo
GSK Pain Relief Foundation Logo