CT (C tactile) afferents are a distinct type of unmyelinated, low-threshold mechanoreceptive units existing in the hairy but not glabrous skin of humans and other mammals. Evidence from patients lacking myelinated tactile afferents indicates that signaling in these fibers activate the insular cortex. Since this system is poor in encoding discriminative aspects of touch, but well-suited to encoding slow, gentle touch, CT fibers in hairy skin may be part of a system for processing pleasant and socially relevant aspects of touch. CT fiber activation may also have a role in pain inhibition. This review outlines the growing evidence for unique properties and pathways of CT afferents. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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