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      Deactivation of default mode network during touch

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          Abstract

          Interpersonal touch possesses a strong affective component, which immediately evokes attention. The neural processing of such touch is moderated by specialized C-tactile nerve fibers in the periphery and results in central activation of somatosensory areas as well as regions involved in social processing, such as the superior temporal gyrus (STG). In the present functional neuroimaging investigation, we tested the hypothesis that the attention grasping effect of interpersonal touch as compared to impersonal touch is reflected in a more-pronounced deactivation of the default mode network (DMN). Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated the neural processing of interpersonal relative to impersonal touch conditions that were furthermore modulated by stroking velocity in order to target c-tactile nerve fibers to a different extent. A sample of 30 healthy participants (19 women, mean age 40.5 years) was investigated. In the impersonal touch, participants were stroked with a brush on the forearm. In the interpersonal touch condition, the experimenter performed the stroking with the palm of his hand. Interpersonal touch was rated as more pleasant and intense than impersonal touch and led to a stronger blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal increase in the somatosensory cortex SII extending to the superior temporal cortex. Over all touch conditions, this activation was coupled in time to the deactivation of prominent nodes of the DMN. Although deactivation of the DMN was most pronounced for interpersonal touch conditions, the direct comparison did not show significant differences in DMN deactivation between interpersonal and impersonal touch or between different stroking velocities. We therefore conclude that all applied touch conditions deactivate the DMN and the strong connection to areas which code the contextual and social characteristics of affective touch may explain the attention grasping effect of touch.

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          Most cited references 17

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          Mind-wandering as spontaneous thought: a dynamic framework.

          Most research on mind-wandering has characterized it as a mental state with contents that are task unrelated or stimulus independent. However, the dynamics of mind-wandering - how mental states change over time - have remained largely neglected. Here, we introduce a dynamic framework for understanding mind-wandering and its relationship to the recruitment of large-scale brain networks. We propose that mind-wandering is best understood as a member of a family of spontaneous-thought phenomena that also includes creative thought and dreaming. This dynamic framework can shed new light on mental disorders that are marked by alterations in spontaneous thought, including depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
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            Default-mode activity during a passive sensory task: uncoupled from deactivation but impacting activation.

            Deactivation refers to increased neural activity during low-demand tasks or rest compared with high-demand tasks. Several groups have reported that a particular set of brain regions, including the posterior cingulate cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex, among others, is consistently deactivated. Taken together, these typically deactivated brain regions appear to constitute a default-mode network of brain activity that predominates in the absence of a demanding external task. Examining a passive, block-design sensory task with a standard deactivation analysis (rest epochs vs. stimulus epochs), we demonstrate that the default-mode network is undetectable in one run and only partially detectable in a second run. Using independent component analysis, however, we were able to detect the full default-mode network in both runs and to demonstrate that, in the majority of subjects, it persisted across both rest and stimulus epochs, uncoupled from the task waveform, and so mostly undetectable as deactivation. We also replicate an earlier finding that the default-mode network includes the hippocampus suggesting that episodic memory is incorporated in default-mode cognitive processing. Furthermore, we show that the more a subject's default-mode activity was correlated with the rest epochs (and "deactivated" during stimulus epochs), the greater that subject's activation to the visual and auditory stimuli. We conclude that activity in the default-mode network may persist through both experimental and rest epochs if the experiment is not sufficiently challenging. Time-series analysis of default-mode activity provides a measure of the degree to which a task engages a subject and whether it is sufficient to interrupt the processes--presumably cognitive, internally generated, and involving episodic memory--mediated by the default-mode network.
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              The science of interpersonal touch: an overview.

              Surprisingly little scientific research has been conducted on the topic of interpersonal touch over the years, despite the importance of touch in our everyday social interactions from birth through to adulthood and old age. In this review, we critically evaluate the results of the research on this topic that have emerged from disciplines, such as cognitive and social psychology, neuroscience, and cultural anthropology. We highlight some of the most important advances to have been made in our understanding of this topic: For example, research has shown that interpersonal tactile stimulation provides an effective means of influencing people's social behaviors (such as modulating their tendency to comply with requests, in affecting people's attitudes toward specific services, in creating bonds between couples or groups, and in strengthening romantic relationships), regardless of whether or not the tactile contact itself can be remembered explicitly. What is more, interpersonal touch can be used to communicate emotion in a manner similar to that demonstrated previously in vision and audition. The recent growth of studies investigating the potential introduction of tactile sensations to long-distance communication technologies (by means of mediated or 'virtual' touch) are also reviewed briefly. Finally, we highlight the synergistic effort that will be needed by researchers in different disciplines if we are to develop a more complete understanding of interpersonal touch in the years to come.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                timmy.strauss@uniklinikum-dresden.de
                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2045-2322
                4 February 2019
                4 February 2019
                2019
                : 9
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2111 7257, GRID grid.4488.0, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, , Technical University Dresden, ; Dresden, Germany
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2162 9922, GRID grid.5640.7, Center for Social and Affective Neuroscience, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, , Linköping University, ; Linköping, Sweden
                [3 ]Department of Neuroradiology, Medizinische Fakultät Carl Gustav Carus, Technische, Universität Dresden, Fetscherstr. 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany
                Article
                37597
                10.1038/s41598-018-37597-1
                6361921
                30718842
                © The Author(s) 2019

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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