Watching another being caressed acts as turn-on

October 18th, 2011 - 4:08 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 18 (IANS) Humans love and enjoy sensual caresses but the brain reacts just as powerfully to seeing another person being caressed, new research says.

Being gently caressed by another person is both a physical and an emotional experience. But the way we are touched and the reaction this elicits in the brain are a science of their own.

Researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology at the University of Gothenburg have studied how the brain reacts to caresses, reports the Journal of Neuroscience.

Volunteers were given MRI scans to measure blood flows in the brain while being stroked either slowly or quickly with a soft brush, according to a Gothenburg statement.

Not unexpectedly, the brain reacted most strongly to the slow strokes. More surprising results emerged when the volunteers instead watched videos of another person being caressed.

“The aim was to understand how the brain processes information from sensual contact, and it turned out that the brain was activated just as quickly when the volunteers got to watch someone else being caressed as when they were being caressed themselves,” says India Morrison, study co-author.

“Even when we are only watching sensual skin contact, we can experience its emotional meaning without actually feeling the touch directly.

“They indicate that our brain is wired in such a way that we can feel and process other people’s sensations, which could open up new ways of studying how we create empathy,” says Morrison.

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