What is Affective Touch?
Our somatosensory system is crucial in helping us navigate the world by allowing us to dexterously manipulate objects, feel the ground when we walk, and apply precisely controlled forces to objects. In addition to helping us navigate the physical world somatosensation helps us when interacting with the social world by helping us understand and communicate emotional meaning.
A growing body of research into a sub-modality of somatosensation, affective touch, has begun to explore how pleasant and affiliative touch helps us to develop emotional well-being, our body image, and relate to others. In the Graczyk lab we strive to use peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) to examine both the discriminative and emotional sides of touch in hopes of developing better prosthetics and answering basic science questions regarding touch as a social tool.