Cognitive NeuroscienceThe representation of pleasant touch in the brain and its relationship with taste and olfactory areasFrancis, S1; Rolls, E T.2,4; Bowtell, R1; McGlone, F3; O'Doherty, J2; Browning, A2; Clare, S1,2; Smith, E3 Author Information 1Magnetic Resonance Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD 2Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3UD 3Unilever Research, Port Sunlight Laboratory, Wirral L63 3JW, UK 4Corresponding Author: E T. Rolls ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: A studentship (CASE award) to S.F. was provided by the EPSRC and Unilever, and to J.O'D. by the Medical Research Council. The research was also supported by MRC Special Project Grant G9302591 (Nottingham), by MRC Programme Grant PG8513790 to E.T.R., and by the MRC Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at Oxford. Received 28 October 1998; accepted 30 November 1998 NeuroReport 10(3):p 453-459, February 25, 1999. Buy Abstract ALTHOUGH there has been much investigation of brain pathways involved in pain, little is known about the brain mechanisms involved in processing somatosensory stimuli which feel pleasant. Employing fMRI it was shown that pleasant touch to the hand with velvet produced stronger activation of the orbitofrontal cortex than affectively neutral touch of the hand with wood. In contrast, the affectively neutral but more intense touch produced more activation of the primary somatosensory cortex than the pleasant stimulus. This indicates that part of the orbitofrontal cortex is concerned with representing the positively affective aspects of somatosensory stimuli, and in further experiments it was shown that this orbitofrontal area is different from that activated by taste and smell. The finding that three different primary or unlearned types of reinforcer (touch, taste, and smell) are represented in the orbitofrontal cortex helps to provide a firm foundation for understanding the neural basis of emotions, which can be understood in terms of states elicited by stimuli which are rewarding or punishing. © 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.