Physiological and Subjective Reactions to Being Touched

Vincent M. Drescher, William E. Whitehead, E. Darcie Morrill‐Corbin, Michael F. Cataldo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The physiological and subjective effects of being touched on the wrist by another person were investigated in 20 normal adults at rest and during immersion of the hand in ice water. Touching reliably reduced heart rate compared to an immediately preceding baseline and compared to an alpha biofeedback condition. Heart rate during painful ice water stimulation was also lower when the subject was touched as compared to when he/she practiced alpha biofeedback, but this effect was not mediated by a reduction in the perceived painfulness of the ice water. Instead, touching and pain had independent, additive effects on heart rate. Touching did not produce generalized reductions in respiratory rate, SRR frequency, or frontalis EMG activity, although subjects did rate being touched as more pleasant and more relaxing than practicing alpha.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-100
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1985


  • Alpha biofeedback
  • EMG
  • Heart rate
  • Pain
  • Respiration
  • SRR
  • Tactile stimuli
  • Touching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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