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Title: Why wet feels wet? A neurophysiological model of human cutaneous wetness sensitivity
Authors: Filingeri, Davide
Fournet, Damien
Hodder, S.G.
Havenith, George
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: © American Physiological Society
Citation: FILINGERI, D. ... et al, 2014. Why wet feels wet? A neurophysiological model of human cutaneous wetness sensitivity. Journal of Neurophysiology, 112 (6), pp. 1457-1469.
Abstract: Although the ability to sense skin wetness and humidity is critical for behavioral and autonomic adaptations, humans are not provided with specific skin receptors for sensing wetness. It has been proposed that we "learn" to perceive the wetness experienced when the skin is in contact with a wet surface or when sweat is produced through a multisensory integration of thermal and tactile inputs generated by the interaction between skin and moisture. However, the individual role of thermal and tactile cues and how these are integrated peripherally and centrally by our nervous system is still poorly understood. Here we tested the hypothesis that the central integration of coldness and mechanosensation, as subserved by peripheral A-nerve afferents, might be the primary neural process underpinning human wetness sensitivity. During a quantitative sensory test, we found that individuals perceived warm-wet and neutral-wet stimuli as significantly less wet than cold-wet ones, although these were characterized by the same moisture content. Also, when cutaneous cold and tactile sensitivity was diminished by a selective reduction in the activity of A-nerve afferents, wetness perception was significantly reduced. Based on a concept of perceptual learning and Bayesian perceptual inference, we developed the first neurophysiological model of cutaneous wetness sensitivity centered on the multisensory integration of cold and mechano sensitive skin afferents. Our results provide evidence for the existence of a specific information processing model which underpins the neural representation of a typical wet stimulus. These findings contribute to explain how humans sense warm, neutral and cold skin wetness.
Description: This article is closed access.
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1152/jn.00120.2014
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/15651
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.00120.2014
ISSN: 0022-3077
Appears in Collections:Closed Access (Design School)

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