Title: Touch, a story of love and pain
Our sense of touch is the only sense with which we can actively explore the world around us; Are object round or square, hot or cold, smooth or soft? At the same time, touch and our emotions are unmistakably intertwined, and we often associate strong emotional feelings with touch. Touch helps us form social and physical relationships, from a pat on the back to sexual intercourse, Touch can give us love, and touch can be incredibly painful.
During the talk, I'll explain how touch is processed via our skin and brain, and why perceive touch the way we do, but also why we have such a wide range of emotional responses to touch. I'll also provide some interesting anecdotes and will show some interactive examples of experiments that allow us to measure touch in humans.
This is all well and good, but sometimes touch doesn't work the way it should. For instance, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder often have difficulties with touch, which can have a huge impact on their daily lives. In the last bit of my talk, I'll step into my own world of research, where we study the brain basis of touch in children with Autism.
Bio: Nick Puts is currently assistant professor in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Science at Johns Hopkins University. He is originally from the Netherlands, where Nick received a degree in Biology. His interest in the brain-basis of human perception led him to pursue a masters in Cognitive Neuroscience. Nick then decided to do his PhD in Cardiff, United Kingdom, focusing on linking brain function, brain chemistry, and touch processing. He has lived in Baltimore with his wife for 5 years now and his current research focuses on linking brain abnormalities to altered touch processing in children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Autism.