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)

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.

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 access to the full article & PDF until 29th December 2018 to anyone visiting through this link: Read The Article

We encourage you to share this page & the article widely.


Abstract

Observers can simulate aspects of other people’s tactile experiences. We asked whether they do so when faced with full-body social interactions, whether emerging representations go beyond basic sensorimotor mirroring, and whether they depend on processing goals and inclinations. In an EEG/ERP study, we presented line-drawn, dyadic interactions with and without affectionate touch. In an explicit and an implicit task, participants categorized images into touch versus no-touch and same versus opposite sex interactions, respectively. Modulations of central Rolandic rhythms implied that affectionate touch displays engaged sensorimotor mechanisms. Additionally, the late positive potential (LPP) being larger for images with as compared to without touch pointed to an involvement of higher order socio-affective mechanisms. Task and sex modulated touch perception. Sensorimotor responding, indexed by Rolandic rhythms, was fairly independent of the task but appeared less effortful in women than in men. Touch induced socio-affective responding, indexed by the LPP, declined from explicit to implicit processing in women and disappeared in men. In sum, this study provides first evidence that vicarious touch from full-body social interactions entails shared sensorimotor as well as socio-affective experiences. Yet, mental representations of touch at a socio-affective level are more likely when touch is goal relevant and observers are female. Together, these results outline the conditions under which touch in visual media may be usefully employed to socially engage observers.

 

Keywords:
Mirror neurons, Vicarious tactile processing, Emotion, Somatosensory perception, Social touch, Sex differences

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2018.10.005

 

MRC Grant: How the brain controls our sense of touch.

LJMU’s press office has announced the news of our MRC grant award:

MRCGrantNews181115A three-year Medical Research Council (MRC) funded study (£~700K) is being led by Dr Sue Francis (PI) at Nottingham University’s Sir Peter Mansfield Brain Imaging Centre and Professor Francis McGlone (Co-I) from the School of Natural Sciences & Psychology at LJMU.  (more…)

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
(more…)

Stroke me for longer, this touch feels too short: The effect of pleasant touch on temporal perception

Conciousness & CognitionNew article in Consciousness & Cognition by Somaffect team members Francis McGlone & David Moore with LJMU collaborator Ruth Ogden

(more…)

Now Recruiting: Peripheral Microneurography & Pain Mechanisms

Participants Wanted.

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

Amazon vouchers paid (£10/hour).
One lab session – up to 6 hours.
(more…)

BPS Annual Conference 2015

This week Ralph, Paula and myself will be presenting posters at the annual BPS conference , in Liverpool. One of the key topics at the conference this year is the social brain.

This will be an excellent opportunity for members of our group to showcase our work  in CT afferents to psychologists, clinicians and researchers from across the broad psychology network.

Connor