Stroke me for longer this touch feels too short: The effect of pleasant touch on temporal perception

Conscious Cogn. 2015 Nov;36:306-13. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2015.07.006. Epub 2015 Jul 25.


Negative, painful, somatosensory stimulation lengthens the perceived duration of time. However, to date, no research has explored the influence of positive, pleasant, somatosensory stimulation on temporal perception. Here we asked whether gentle stroking touch influences perceptions of duration. Pleasant (gentle) and mildly unpleasant (rough) tactile stimulation was delivered whilst participants estimated the duration of a neutral visual stimulus. Pleasant touch resulted in shorter estimates of duration than unpleasant touch. There was no difference in duration perception in the unpleasant and control conditions. Taken together with the results of previous research (Ogden, Moore, Redfern, & McGlone, 2015), the results of this study suggest that pleasant and painful somatosensory stimulation have opposing effects on temporal perception, and additionally that pleasant touch can alter aspects of perceptual and attentional processing outside the purely affective domain.

Keywords: Attention; CT-fibres; Self-representation; Time perception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pleasure / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Touch Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Young Adult