Why Being Touched Can Inflame Emotions
It's clear touch and emotion can be closely tied: The brush of a hand can provoke excitement, comfort or repulsion — all depending on who's delivering the touch and when. But new research indicates the emotional connection shows up early as the brain processes a social touch.
Using brain scans to monitor responses from heterosexual men, a team of researchers watched how the men responded when they believed their legs had been given a sensual caress from an attractive woman versus a masculine man. They found that a region in the brain, the primary somatosensory cortex, which was thought to only respond to physical touch, responded more the "female" touch than to the "male" touch.
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