Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pleasure Nerves Identified

A team of scientists working across several universities has pinpointed which nerves in your skin are responsible for delivering pleasurable sensations of touch, and they've also learned how to activate those nerves. Pleasure and pain are tricky things in the body. They aren't well understood, and they can often manifest with no discernible cause. When it comes to pain, one person's capacity to handle it can be very different from another, making the sensation weirdly subjective. The same is true of pleasure, but by studying which nerves are active when people are being touched in a way they find pleasurable, we now have a clearer idea of how these messages are transmitted to the brain. The studies showed that test subjects who reported pleasurable sensations from touch had activated "C-tactile" nerve fibers. And the optimal stroking speed to activate these fibers is about four to five centimeters per second. Oddly, these fibers are only present in skin that also has hair follicles. So, for example, you're much less likely to feel pleasure from being stroked on the palm of your hand. The researchers suspect this might be an evolutionary trait designed to keep us from feeling too much excitement when using our hands as tools. This makes sense when you consider how much work you wouldn't get done if masturbation was twice as pleasurable as it already is. This also explains why Robin Williams can have an orgasm by rubbing against a cat scratch pole with any part of his body. More details here.

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