We will determine the basis for CT’s unique velocity preference and reveal ion channels critical for human CT signaling. These studies are important for understanding basic somatosensory mechanotransduction mechanisms, and they are central for the ongoing development of CT-derived analgesic drugs based on transgenic mice models.
Affective responses are ultimately shaped in the brain, but it has never been studied to what degree the peripheral CT signals can decode the basic affective properties of the stimulus. We aim to test the hypothesis that CT afferents have a similar acuity as Aβ fibers in representing stimulus properties, but in the affective domain. This would suggest that the CT afferents inform the emotional response at a surprisingly fine-grained level. In doing so we will use ecologically valid naturalistic touch which is a novel approach in this field. If CT afferents can handle the bulk of human-to-human affective touch coding it would suggest that these unmyelinated fibers have an important role in shaping our social world.
Photo credit Thor Balkhed