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Departmental Seminar: ‘Touching’ the Developing Brain, Professor Francis McGlone

Location: H1.48 Humanities Annex (Refreshments in Common Room 15:45)

Professor Francis McGlone, Liverpool JM University

Title: ‘Touching’ the Developing Brain

Host: Professor Dieter Wolke and Dr Marina Goulart de Mendonca (contact Marina if you'd like to meet Professor McGlone.

ABSTRACT It is now known that some skin nerves send ‘feel good’ signals to the brain when activated by gentle stroking touch, and that this kind of touch may play an all-important role in human nurture behaviours and social communication. Research into the sense of touch has focussed mainly on the fingertips, which have been described, in analogy with vision, as the ‘fovea’ of this sensory modality. Information from these receptors projects to discriminative sensory areas of the brain via fast-conducting nerve fibres, enabling this information to be processed in ‘real-time’ – an important factor when handling objects or tools. However, touch has another dimension beyond the purely discriminative that we are all familiar with, such as that feeling one gets when cuddling a baby, or being hugged by a loved one – an emotional one. The importance of emotional touch during development, and across the lifespan, will be reviewed in this talk.

BIOGRAPHY: Professor of Neuroscience, Liverpool JM University, UK Visiting Professor, University of Liverpool, UK BSc(Hons) in Neurobiology and PhD in Sensory Neuroscience, University of Sussex. After postdoctoral positions at Manchester University he took up the post of Senior Neuroscientist at the Pain Research Institute, Department of Medicine, Liverpool University, investigating mechanisms of chronic neuropathic pain. This was the start of a realisation that research into the human brain/mind had to be multidisciplinary, and a fascination with c-fibres (pain, itch & pleasure nerves), which he was subsequently able to pursue with a move to industry (Unilever R&D), but then looking at their role in reward. He is currently Professor in Neuroscience at Liverpool John Moores University, Head of the Somatosensory & Affective Neuroscience Group - and President of the International Association for the Study of Affective Touch -

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