Magic Fingers: The New Science of Touch

Whether it's a caress, an embrace or a massage, touch targets our happy zones, relieving stress, pain and depression (14 Photos)

Kalia Doner on Mar 14, 2012 at 10:31AM

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Magic Fingers: The New Science of Touch

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Tame Your Pain

Stroking skin activates several nerve systems that control body-wide stress responses and are connected to the brain’s “happy” zones. Specialized C-tactile nerve fibers are the expressway between sensation on the skin and pleasure in the brain -- and they can overpower pain messages. The more you are stroked (there’s that purring again), the more your pain vanishes, and pleasure takes its place. “The signals that tell the brain that we are being stroked on the skin have their own direct route to the brain and are not blocked even if the brain is receiving pain impulses from the same area,” says Line Loken, a postgraduate student in neurophysiology at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gotheburg, Sweden, where researchers studied the CT nerve. “In fact it’s the opposite -- the stroking impulses are able to deaden the pain impulses.”

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