Humans aren’t the only animals that enjoy being gently massaged. Many other mammals, from rats to cats, like to be groomed and softly stroked. A recent study detailed in Nature found “neutrons in mice that fire in response to gentle, stroking touch”, according to Fox News. The discovery could possibly lead to the invention of a massage pill some day.
Alan Basbaum, a neuroscientist at the University of California San Francisco, who was not part of the study, says that if neutrons can be chemically activated “you could generate drugs that make you feel good”, according to Live Science.
If there was a pill that mimicked the benefits of massage, it would be interesting to see if it costs more or less than a trip to the masseuse. Plus the effect of a pill would likely be more predictable than depending on the skills of a masseuse.
The study’s co-author David Anderson, a neuroscientist at the California Institute of Technology, says it isn’t clear exactly why people enjoy being massaged.
The abundance of social grooming that animals engage in is thought to be why they are wired to find pleasure in that kind of touching. For example, previous work has “identified neutrons specific to itch”, but the reason behind pleasure inspired by massage is more of a mystery.
One experiment that scientists conducted on mice involved chemically activating neutron found under the skin that are connected to neutrons around the spinal cord. The mice appeared to feel better after the experiment.
Scientists may not know why certain types of touching makes people feel better, but most would agree that if everyone had access to the positive effects of massage, it would be a much happier world.