Social touch is not purely a human behaviour. In fact, the C-tactile (CT) afferent was first characterised (as a C-low threshold mechanoreceptor) in cats. In this paper Testard et al. explore the social relationships within groups of macaques on a remote island both before and after a devastating hurricane. This is a unique perspective showing that these primates show an increase in interpersonal interactions with others in their group. It appears that the devastating effects of the hurricane not only caused these primates to create new social relationships with others, but they significantly increased their mutual grooming behaviours as a result. This suggests that in these primates, as in humans, touch plays a significant role in support and social bonding.  

Read The Article:

Testard, C., Larson, S. M., Watowich, M. W… Snyder-Mackler, N., Platt, M. L & Brent, L. J. N. (2021). Rhesus macaques build new social connections after natural disaster. Current Biology, 31, 1-11.

Connor Haggarty

My PhD looked at individual differences in the physiological and behavioural responses to affective touch. I'm interested in the role of affective touch in social behaviour in humans and other species