13 April 2009

Why we like to brush our hair

Professor Francis McGlone, of food and beauty firm Unilever, whose team discovered the C-fibres, said hugging and grooming such as brushing our hair, all play an important part in making us feel good.
The C-fibres are instrumental in transmitting both pain and pleasure from our skin to the brain, but they only transmit pleasure to the brain if the skin is stroked at a slow rate of around 4 centimetres per second.

It is believed that this is why brushing your hair can be pleasurable and why a massage is only pleasurable if it is done slowly.

Professor McGlone also believes that these “pleasure nerves” may be instrumental in helping develop the brain and the immune system in babies. He said: “We've known for many years that preterm infants, if they're not handled every day, stroked and cuddled, their immune systems don't develop effectively and their birth weight doesn't increase significantly. And the only mediation that increases that infant's health is touch.”

Click here an interview with Professor McGlone.

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