Originally posted on Why Evolution Is True:
by Matthew Cobb
Everyone knows that kittehs love being stroked. Indeed it’s something that is common to many mammals. But why and how? A paper in Nature by Sophia Vrontou and co-workers addresses the “how” question – that is, what are the underlying mechanisms – looking at mice. The opening sentences are limpid:
Stroking of the skin produces pleasant sensations that can occur during social interactions with conspecifics, such as grooming:. Despite numerous physiological studies, molecularly defined sensory neurons that detect pleasant stroking of hairy skin in vivo have not been reported.