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Interdisciplinary Network of Researchers in Touch

Program detail

Thursday 25th July, 2019

18:00-19:00: Posters & wine in Social Space, A22The role of affective touch in modulating visual preference to faces in early infancy: A behavioural and psychophysiological investigation

Della Longa L, Carnevali L, Patron E, Farroni T

The present study aims to investigate affective and rewarding aspects of affective touch in early infancy and the underlying physiological mechanisms that mediate the effect of touch in social information processing. Affective touch has been showed to be effective in regulating infants’ emotional state and reinforcing eye contact and smiling. In this study, we presented four-month-old infants with faces and tactile stimuli (hand stoking vs tapping with a brush) during a familiarization period, followed by a visual preference test. The results revealed that infants looked longer at faces associated with affective touch, suggesting affective touch may have an important positive and rewarding value that promotes engagement in social interactions. Moreover, we measured infants’ heart rate asking whether affective touch elicits heart rate decrease, which reflects a parasympathetic response, regulating arousal to a level that is optimal for paying attention to contingent social information.

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