Gentle touching of the hand activates emotion- and reward-related regions of the brain. The present study investigated activation of the prefrontal cortex by gentle sweeps of the palm or forearm with three materials (wood, velvet, paintbrush) using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Sweeps of the left palm with a sensuous velvet fabric increased the oxy-hemoglobin (oxy-Hb) concentration in the frontal-polar cortex (FPC) and a part of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), compared to a neutral touch produced by rounded wood. Pleasantness ratings were higher for the velvet than wood. In conclusion, the present study revealed the involvement of the FPC/OFC in pleasant emotion produced by gentle touch to the hand.
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