Somatosensory pleasure circuit: From skin to brain and back

Donna M. Lloyd, Francis P. McGlone, Gil Yosipovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The skin senses serve a discriminative function, allowing us to manipulate objects and detect touch and temperature, and an affective/emotional function, manifested as itch or pain when the skin is damaged. Two different classes of nerve fibre mediate these dissociable aspects of cutaneous somatosensation: (i) myelinated A-beta and A-delta afferents that provide rapid information about the location and physical characteristics of skin contact; and (ii) unmyelinated, slow-conducting C-fibre afferents that are typically associated with coding the emotional properties of pain and itch. However, recent research has identified a third class of C-fibre afferents that code for the pleasurable properties of touch - c-tactile afferents or CTs. Clinical application of treatments that target pleasant, CT-mediated touch (such as massage therapy) could, in the future, provide a complementary, non-pharmacological means of treating both the physical and psychological aspects of chronic skin conditions such as itch and eczema.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-324
Number of pages4
JournalExperimental dermatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • C-tactile fibres
  • Itch
  • Massage therapy
  • Pain
  • Pleasant touch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology


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