2019 Ig Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Prof. Francis McGlone & colleagues

This year’s Ig Nobel Peach Prize was jointly awarded to: Ghada A. bin Saif, Alexandru Papoiu, Liliana Banari, Francis McGlone, Shawn G. Kwatra, Yiong-Huak Chan, and Gil Yosipovitch, for trying to measure the pleasurability of scratching an itch. The researchers represent the UK, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the USA.

REFERENCE: “The Pleasurability of Scratching an Itch: A Psychophysical and Topographical Assessment,” G.A. bin Saif, A.D.P. Papoiu, L. Banari, F. McGlone, S.G. Kwatra, Y.-H. Chan and G. Yosipovitch, British Journal of Dermatology, vol. 166, no. 5, 2012, pp. 981-985.

The 10 Ig Nobel Prizes awarded yearly by Improbable Research honour achievements that make people LAUGH, and then THINK.

Prof. Francis McGlone was unable to attend the ceremony, but delivered an acceptance speech via recorded video, and also spoke to The Guardian who reported on the awards:

Britain’s pride was upheld by Francis McGlone, a researcher at Liverpool John Moores University, who shared the Ig Nobel peace prize. As part of an international team, McGlone helped map out which parts of the body are most pleasurable to scratch. The ankles ranked highest, the researchers found, and then the back and forearm.

I was over the moon when I heard. It’s nice for all of us. It’s an honour,” McGlone said on hearing he had won. “The thing that’s fascinated me for a long while now is why is scratching an itch so bloody nice?

But there is a serious side to the research, he said. “People always laugh about itching, but chronic itch is devastating. People with chronic itch will scratch until it bleeds because the pain is preferable to the itching.

By understanding which parts of the body are most prone to itch, and those which are most susceptible to relief, scientists hope to find new treatments for the condition. McGlone, who could not attend the ceremony, accepted the award in a video message recorded with a homunculus on his shoulder.

You can watch the whole ceremony online – (or skip to the Peace Prize award)

#IASAT2019 – Linköping, Sweden

Following on from the 2015 conference hosted by the SomAffect lab at LJMU, this year’s IASAT conference was hosted by our colleagues at the GRASP lab at Linköping University.

A number of SomAffect members attended, and presented:

Professor Francis McGlone chaired the 1st session – The “C Story: Pain, Itch & Pleasure”, introducing the three C fibres, and highlighting that these fibres do not operate in isolation. He called for the three international societies for Pain, Itch & Affective Touch to recognise each other, and collaborate.

Adarsh Makdani presented a talk on Itch, highlighting the relevance of itch, the peripheral mechanisms, and suggested that scratching should be considered an “Affective Touch”. He also presented data collected during his PhD, looking at the peripheral mechanisms of Itch in a rare case-study subject.

Dr. Andrew Marshall presented in the 2nd session, giving an overview of the spinal cord mechanisms of pain, itch, and pleasant touch & highlighting data collected at The Walton Centre, looking at the spinal cord projection of C fibres in a rare cohort of patients.

Dr. Paula Trotter was awarded a prize for her Data Blitz presentation, highlighting new research into touch perception in foster-care leavers. This data was collected as part of an undergraduate dissertation by LJMU students Shaunna Devine & Elizabeth Stockton; Shaunna presented a poster on the research at the conference.

The team were very happy to be a part of an excellent programme of speakers & presenters. More details can be found on the IASAT website.

Stroking modulates noxious-evoked brain activity in human infants (Current Biology – 17/12/18)

Just published, and already making headlines, is our new open-access paper in Current Biology.

SomAffect’s Francis McGlone and Susannah Walker (LJMU) have been working closely in collaboration with Rebecca Slater’s lab (University of Oxford) on this study which shows that stroking touch reduces infant neural (EEG) responses to pinpricks & clinical heel lance.

Professor McGlone said of the study: “This is the result of 4 years collaboration between the authors, which provides further evidence of the importance of C-Tactile afferents in early life, and a new take on the much revered Gate Control theory.

Read the Article in Current Biology
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.11.014

Abstract:
A subclass of C fibre sensory neurons found in hairy skin are activated by gentle touch [1] and respond optimally to stroking at ∼1–10 cm/s, serving a protective function by promoting affiliative behaviours. In adult humans, stimulation of these C-tactile (CT) afferents is pleasant, and can reduce pain perception [2]. Touch-based techniques, such as infant massage and kangaroo care, are designed to comfort infants during procedures, and a modest reduction in pain-related behavioural and physiological responses has been observed in some studies [3]. Here, we investigated whether touch can reduce noxious-evoked brain activity. We demonstrate that stroking (at 3 cm/s) prior to an experimental noxious stimulus or clinical heel lance can attenuate noxious-evoked brain activity in infants. CT fibres may represent a biological target for non-pharmacological interventions that modulate pain in early life.


Deniz Gursul, Sezgi Goksan, Caroline Hartley, Gabriela Schmidt Mellado, Fiona Moultrie, Amy Hoskin, Eleri Adams, Gareth Hathway, Susannah Walker, Francis McGlone, Rebeccah Slater, Stroking modulates noxious-evoked brain activity in human infants, Current Biology, Volume 28, Issue 24, 2018.

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, and the work of SomAffect / LJMU Professor Francis McGlone.

… “The fast nerves have dominated our understanding of touch” … “But that’s the boring stuff. The rest of the body, that’s where the C-tactile fibres are.” …


A touching story

C-tactile fibres in hairy skin, specialised for responding to gentle stroking, could be playing a key role in development of the social brain.


… “It doesn’t matter what story you tell, the nerve fibres have worked it out.” …


Download the Article (PDF): A Touching Story  and visit the British Neuroscience Association to sign up, and read the whole bulletin (plus back issues from 2004).

© The British Neuroscience Association Ltd

Now Recruiting Sona Participants: Peripheral Microneurography & Pain Mechanisms

Participants Wanted.

 We are looking for healthy participants – aged 18-60.

1 Sona Point + £5 Amazon Vouchers Per Hour.
One lab session – up to ~6 hours
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Unseen agony: Dismantling autism’s house of pain – SFARI 05/15


David Moore recently spoke to Sarah DeWeerdt  for the Simons FoundationAutism Research Initiative, about pain & autism.

Unseen agony: Dismantling autism’s house of pain

“I was surprised by how little literature exists on autism and
pain,” says David Moore, senior lecturer in psychology at SFARI_MAY2015COVERLiverpool John Moores University in the U.K., who last year published a review of the field


Read the full article
.

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