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Collaborative research into haptic experience

Our latest research collaboration focuses on how the sensation of touch evolves across our lifespan as adults. The experience of touch is central to craft practice and this interdisciplinary pilot project with colleagues in Art & Design at Cardiff Metropolitan University and Cognitive Neuroscience at Swansea University aims to further our understanding of the neural underpinnings of the sensation of touch as we age. This project builds on research by Professor Cathy Treadaway into the development of sensory textiles to support the wellbeing of people living with advanced dementia. The textiles were found to soothe comfort and reduce agitation of people living with the advanced stages of the disease.

The research questions include:

  • To what extent does the perception of tactile stimuli decline in older adults, in comparison to young adults?
  • How does the complexity of a tactile stimulus alter neural activity, when compared to measurements made while the brain is at rest?
  • To what extent are responses to tactile stimulation associated with aspects of memory?
  • How does the basic ability to perceive tactile stimuli influence the experience of the sensory textiles?

We will post regular updates as the research progresses.

      Tactile Pocket used in the research, constructed from layers of different fabric with embellishments.Credit: Professor Cathy Treadaway, Cardiff Metropolitan University

Participant MRI scanning at Swansea University. Credit: Professor Cathy Treadaway, Cardiff Metropolitan University