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Professor Francis McGlone on Gentle Stroking Touch

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Professor Francis McGlone on Gentle Stroking Touch


Professor Francis McGlone is the head of the Somatosensory and Affective Neuroscience Group at the School of Natural Sciences & Psychology and Professor in Neuroscience at Liverpool John Moores University and is Visiting Professor at the University of Liverpool and Aalto University, Finland. His primary area of academic research is characterising the role of afferent c-fibres in humans, investigating their role in pain, itch and pleasure.  Of particular interest are the recently discovered – in humans – population of mechanosensitive c-fibres that respond to ‘gentle stroking touch’.

In this wide-ranging Masterclass interview, we discuss Professor McGlone’s research into the mechanosensitive c-fibres and how different types of touch affect humans differently. This includes discussion around existing research, such as Harlow’s monkey, Michael Meaney’s rats and John Cacioppo’s book ‘Loneliness’.

Professor McGlone explains how touch is a form of social communication and will change human behaviour, right from birth, where the gentle stroking touch is an essential form of communication.




Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection by John T. Cacioppo  and William Patrick

Environmental programming of stress responses through DNA methylation by Dr Michael Meaney

Information about Harlow’s monkey experiments can be found here.

Find Professor Tiffany Field’s book Touch here.

Find Jean Barlow Training Solutions here.

Find Shaunna Devine’s research profile here.

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Kathy Brodie

Kathy Brodie