Damage to the right insula disrupts the perception of affective touch

Elife. 2020 Jan 24:9:e47895. doi: 10.7554/eLife.47895.


Specific, peripheral C-tactile afferents contribute to the perception of tactile pleasure, but the brain areas involved in their processing remain debated. We report the first human lesion study on the perception of C-tactile touch in right hemisphere stroke patients (N = 59), revealing that right posterior and anterior insula lesions reduce tactile, contralateral and ipsilateral pleasantness sensitivity, respectively. These findings corroborate previous imaging studies regarding the role of the posterior insula in the perception of affective touch. However, our findings about the crucial role of the anterior insula for ipsilateral affective touch perception open new avenues of enquiry regarding the cortical organization of this tactile system.

Keywords: CT system; affective touch; human; insula; interoception; lesion mapping; neuroscience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afferent Pathways* / physiology
  • Afferent Pathways* / physiopathology
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebral Cortex* / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex* / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Pleasure / physiology*
  • Stroke / physiopathology*
  • Touch / physiology
  • Touch Perception / physiology*