Pleasantness is generally overlooked when investigating tactile functions. Addition of a pleasant stimulus could allow for a more complete characterisation of somatosensory function. The aims of this review were to systematically assess the methodologies used to elicit a pleasant sensation, measured via psychophysical techniques, and to perform a meta-analysis to measure the effect of brush stroking velocity on touch pleasantness. Eighteen studies were included in the systematic review, with five studies included in the meta-analysis. The review found that factors such as texture, velocity, force, and the duration of continuous stroking influence tactile evoked pleasantness. Specifically, using a soft material and stroking at a velocity of 3 cm/s with light force is generally considered as particularly pleasant. The meta-analysis showed that a brush stroking velocity of 30 cm/s was rated as less pleasant than 3 cm/s, on the forearm. The present study collates the factors that are most likely to provide a stimulus to elicit a pleasant sensation. The results should be important for studies requiring a well-defined pleasant stimulus including neurosensory assessment protocols, allowing for a more complete multimodality assessment of somatosensory function.
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Taneja, P., Olausson, H., Trulsson, M. et al. Defining pleasant touch stimuli: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Research 85, 20–35 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-019-01253-8