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February 6 2013

Why mice and men, and cats and dogs, all like to be stroked

The stroking impulse could have evolved out of the need to keep fur and hair free from parasites

A gentle stroke on the head or arm could feel pleasant because these areas of the skin contain specialised nerve cells that send "pleasure pulses" to the brain when stimulated, scientists have discovered.

The existence of special pleasure detectors in hairy skin has long been debated but now researchers have finally found strong evidence of their existence in laboratory mice at least.

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