GIANLUCA CRUCIANI

PhD Graduate

PhD program:: XXXIV



Thesis title: Affective Touch: from Attachment patterns to Borderline Personality Disorder

The construct of Affective Touch refers to pleasant, hedonic, and motivational, rather than discriminative, aspects of touch, and it has gained much interest from the international scientific community because of the implications that it appears to be linked to across different domains of our lives, such as in interpersonal relationships. Such aspects of touch are driven by a particular group of afferent fibers - CT fibers - which are optimal activated by slow stroking on the skin, similar to a human caress, and their activation typically evokes a pleasant subjective sensation. Individual differences have been shown to influence Affective Touch perception, such as low exposure to pleasant tactile interaction during the life course, insecure attachment patterns and psychiatric disorders in which interpersonal domain is compromised. For these reasons, four studies are presented in the current thesis: each study focused on a specific aspect of Affective Touch, and the rationale of each study is strongly interlocked to each other, starting from the exploration of individual differences that may affect affective touch perception in healthy subjects - i.e. attachment patterns - to features that are characteristics in psychiatric populations - i.e. Borderline Personality Disorder. In the first study we analyzed how interpersonal attachment experiences may shape the perception and neural elaboration of Affective Touch, showing that adult healthy individuals with a disorganized attachment pattern perceive affective stimulations as less pleasant than organized people and display abnormal brain activity in regions that are known to have a role in processing affective, salient stimuli, such as the amygdala. The second, third and fourth studies aimed at exploring psychophysical and psychophysiological aspect of Affective Touch in patients suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which often exhibit a Disorganized attachment patterns, abnormal nociception and self-harming as a coping mechanism, and dysregulated interpersonal relationships. Specifically, in the second study we assessed all the principal submodalities of touch in BPD patients and we showed no differences in affective touch perception when compared to healthy controls. Nevertheless, in the third study, we found significant differences in pleasantness ratings of stimulations delivered with objects typically considered as unpleasant, with BPD patients showing higher level of pleasantness than controls in response to stroking delivered with coarse and punctuate objects; furthermore, when asked to self-stimulate in the most pleasant way, healthy participants mostly selected soft objects, applied light pressure and spontaneously selected velocities of stimulation that fell into the affective touch range (i.e. between 1 and 10 cm/s), whereas BPD patients equally selected soft and coarse objects, and applied higher pressure than controls. In the fourth study, we showed that Affective Touch has a soothing effect on psychophysiological cardiac indices, namely heart rate, heart rate variability, and interoceptive awareness both on healthy participants and on BPD patients, which may have clinical implications given abnormal cardiac indices usually observed in BPD patients. Results are discussed in terms of peripheral and central mechanisms, as well as interpersonal experiences and environmental conditions, that could affect the perception of pleasant, affective aspects of touch in such populations.

Research products

11573/1712132 - 2024 - A Systematic Review on Autism and Hyperserotonemia: State-of-the-Art, Limitations, and Future Directions
Esposito, Dario; Cruciani, Gianluca; Zaccaro, Laura; Di Carlo, Emanuele; Spitoni, Grazia Fernanda; Manti, Filippo; Carducci, Claudia; Fiori, Elena; Leuzzi, Vincenzo; Pascucci, Tiziana - 01g Articolo di rassegna (Review)
paper: BRAIN SCIENCES (Basel: Molecular Diversity Preservation International) pp. - - issn: 2076-3425 - wos: WOS:001232272600001 (0) - scopus: 2-s2.0-85194427521 (0)

11573/1692873 - 2023 - Heart rate variability alterations in takotsubo syndrome and related association with psychological factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Cruciani, Gianluca; Cavicchioli, Marco; Tanzilli, Gaetano; Tanzilli, Annalisa; Lingiardi, Vittorio; Galli, Federica - 01a Articolo in rivista
paper: SCIENTIFIC REPORTS (London: Springer Nature London: Nature Publishing Group) pp. 1-12 - issn: 2045-2322 - wos: WOS:001117544000008 (0) - scopus: 2-s2.0-85177797766 (0)

11573/1696618 - 2023 - Parental Burnout, Coparenting, and Internalized Sexual Stigma During COVID-19 in Parents With Minoritized Sexual Identities
Cruciani, Gianluca; Quintigliano, Maria; Speranza, Anna Maria; Baiocco, Roberto; Carone, Nicola; Lingiardi, Vittorio - 01a Articolo in rivista
paper: JOURNAL OF FAMILY PSYCHOLOGY (American Psychological Association:750 First Street Northeast:Washington, DC 20002:(800)374-2721, (202)336-5600, EMAIL: susbscriptions@apa.org, INTERNET: http://www.apa.org, Fax: (202)336-5502) pp. - - issn: 0893-3200 - wos: WOS:001114933900001 (0) - scopus: 2-s2.0-85183106595 (0)

11573/1689792 - 2023 - Affective Touch perception in Borderline Personality Disorder: a behavioral and psychophysiological approach
Cruciani, Gianluca; Zingaretti, Pietro; De Filippis, Sergio; Lingiardi, Vittorio; Spitoni, Grazia Fernanda - 04d Abstract in atti di convegno
conference: IASAT: International Association for the Study of Affective Touch - the festival of touch (Marseille)
book: Book of Abstracts - ()

11573/1688014 - 2023 - The perception of pain, discriminative touch and affective touch in patients suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder
Cruciani, Gianluca; Zingaretti, Pietro; Lingiardi, Vittorio; De Filippis, Sergio; Haggard, Patrick; Spitoni, Grazia Fernanda - 01a Articolo in rivista
paper: JOURNAL OF AFFECTIVE DISORDERS (Elsevier BV:PO Box 211, 1000 AE Amsterdam Netherlands:011 31 20 4853757, 011 31 20 4853642, 011 31 20 4853641, EMAIL: nlinfo-f@elsevier.nl, INTERNET: http://www.elsevier.nl, Fax: 011 31 20 4853598) pp. - - issn: 0165-0327 - wos: WOS:001090672100001 (0) - scopus: 2-s2.0-85170037813 (0)

11573/1696569 - 2023 - Intergenerational transmission of attachment in middle childhood in lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parent families formed by assisted reproduction
Quintigliano, Maria; Carone, Nicola; Speranza, Anna Maria; Antoniucci, Chiara; Innocenzi, Eleonora; Manzi, Demetria; Mirabella, Marta; Fortunato, Alexandro; Giovanardi, Guido; Cruciani, Gianluca; Baiocco, Roberto; Barone, Lavinia; Lingiardi, Vittorio - 04d Abstract in atti di convegno
conference: International Convention of Psychological Science (ICPS) (Bruxelles, Belgium)
book: ICPS 2023 Program Book - ()

11573/1672032 - 2022 - Is physical pain painful for all? An experimental study on touch, pain and self-harm in patients suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder
Cruciani, Gianluca; Zingaretti, Pietro; Iosa, Marco; De Filippis, Sergio; Lingiardi, Vittorio; Spitoni, Grazia Fernanda - 04d Abstract in atti di convegno
conference: 9th EU-SPR Chapter Meeting Rome 2022 - Therapist Responsiveness: Challenges and Opportunities (Rome)
book: Book of Abstracts - ()

11573/1654071 - 2022 - Perceived Anxiety, Coping, and Autonomic Function in Takotsubo Syndrome Long after the Acute Event
Lazzeroni, Davide; Ciraci, Chiara; Sommaruga, Marinella; Oggioni, Carlotta; Saccò, Melissa; Ziveri, Valentina; Paglialonga, Letizia; Bini, Matteo; Moderato, Luca; Brambilla, Lorenzo; Coruzzi, Paolo; Cruciani, Gianluca; Lingiardi, Vittorio; Tanzilli, Annalisa; Galli, Federica - 01a Articolo in rivista
paper: LIFE (Basel: MDPI) pp. 1376- - issn: 2075-1729 - wos: WOS:000856785500001 (3) - scopus: 2-s2.0-85138676761 (4)

11573/1670828 - 2022 - The perception of Affective Touch in patients suffering from Fibromyalgia
Zanini, Ludovica; Cruciani, Gianluca; Russo, Valentina; Mirabella, Martina; Spitoni, Grazia Fernanda - 04d Abstract in atti di convegno
conference: 30º Congresso dell’ Associazione Italiana di Psicologia (Padova, Italia)
book: Book of Abstract. 30º Congresso dell’Associazione Italiana di Psicologia - (978-88-6938-316-8)

11573/1549949 - 2021 - Strengths and weaknesses of affective touch studies over the lifetime: a systematic review
Cruciani, G.; Zanini, L.; Russo, V.; Mirabella, M.; Palamoutsi, E. M.; Spitoni, G. F. - 01g Articolo di rassegna (Review)
paper: NEUROSCIENCE AND BIOBEHAVIORAL REVIEWS (Elsevier Science Limited:Oxford Fulfillment Center, PO Box 800, Kidlington Oxford OX5 1DX United Kingdom:011 44 1865 843000, 011 44 1865 843699, EMAIL: asianfo@elsevier.com, tcb@elsevier.co.UK, INTERNET: http://www.elsevier.com, http://www.elsevier.com/locate/shpsa/, Fax: 011 44 1865 843010) pp. 1-24 - issn: 0149-7634 - wos: WOS:000677478200001 (18) - scopus: 2-s2.0-85104410491 (20)

11573/1599669 - 2021 - An exploratory study on resting-state functional connectivity in individuals with disorganized attachment: evidence for key regions in amygdala and hippocampus
Cruciani, Gianluca; Boccia, Maddalena; Lingiardi, Vittorio; Giovanardi, Guido; Zingaretti, Pietro; Spitoni, Grazia Fernanda - 01a Articolo in rivista
paper: BRAIN SCIENCES (Basel: Molecular Diversity Preservation International) pp. - - issn: 2076-3425 - wos: WOS:000807171300001 (1) - scopus: 2-s2.0-85121705361 (3)

11573/1706567 - 2021 - An Exploratory Study on Resting-State Functional Connectivity in Individuals with Disorganized Attachment: Evidence for Key Regions in Amygdala and Hippocampus
Cruciani, Gianluca; Boccia, Maddalena; Lingiardi, Vittorio; Giovanardi, Guido; Zingaretti, Pietro; Spitoni, Grazia Fernanda - 01a Articolo in rivista
paper: BRAIN SCIENCES (Basel: Molecular Diversity Preservation International) pp. - - issn: 2076-3425 - wos: WOS:000807171300001 (1) - scopus: 2-s2.0-85121705361 (3)

11573/1569947 - 2021 - Pleasantness ratings in response to affective touch across hairy and glabrous skin: a meta-analysis
Cruciani, Gianluca; Zanini, Ludovica; Russo, Valentina; Boccardi, Erika; Spitoni, Grazia Fernanda - 01g Articolo di rassegna (Review)
paper: NEUROSCIENCE AND BIOBEHAVIORAL REVIEWS (Elsevier Science Limited:Oxford Fulfillment Center, PO Box 800, Kidlington Oxford OX5 1DX United Kingdom:011 44 1865 843000, 011 44 1865 843699, EMAIL: asianfo@elsevier.com, tcb@elsevier.co.UK, INTERNET: http://www.elsevier.com, http://www.elsevier.com/locate/shpsa/, Fax: 011 44 1865 843010) pp. 88-95 - issn: 0149-7634 - wos: WOS:000709405300006 (13) - scopus: 2-s2.0-85115097890 (15)

11573/1416627 - 2020 - Disorganized attachment pattern affects the perception of affective touch
Spitoni, Grazia Fernanda; Zingaretti, Pietro; Giovanardi, Guido; Antonucci, Gabriella; Galati, Gaspare; Lingiardi, Vittorio; Cruciani, Gianluca; Titone, Giulia; Boccia, Maddalena - 01a Articolo in rivista
paper: SCIENTIFIC REPORTS (London: Springer Nature London: Nature Publishing Group) pp. - - issn: 2045-2322 - wos: WOS:000544937400001 (30) - scopus: 2-s2.0-85086624538 (32)

11573/1689793 - 2019 - Behavioral perception and brain mechanism for processing Affective Touch appear to be altered in Disorganized compared to Organized attachment.
Cruciani, Gianluca; Zingaretti, Pietro; Titone, Giulia; Giovanardi, Guido; Lingiardi, Vittorio; Boccia, Maddalena; Galati, Gaspare; Antonucci, Gabriella; Spitoni, Grazia Fernanda - 04d Abstract in atti di convegno
conference: 37° European Workshop on Cognitive Neuropsychology, EWCN 2019 (Brixen)
book: Book of Abstracts - ()

11573/1321602 - 2019 - Heart rate variability in response to the recall of attachment memories
Zingaretti, Pietro; Giovanardi, Guido; Cruciani, Gianluca; Lingiardi, Vittorio; Ottaviani, Cristina; Spitoni, Grazia Fernanda - 01a Articolo in rivista
paper: ATTACHMENT & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT (Routledge Limited:11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE United Kingdom:011 44 20 75839855, INTERNET: http://journals.routledge.com, Fax: 011 44 20 7330245) pp. - - issn: 1461-6734 - wos: WOS:000492109500001 (7) - scopus: 2-s2.0-85074459483 (8)

11573/1278964 - 2019 - Tactile sensitivity, tactile acuity, and affective touch. From childhood to early adolescence
Zingaretti, Pietro; Petta, Anna Maria; Cruciani, Gianluca; Spitoni, Grazia Fernanda - 01a Articolo in rivista
paper: SOMATOSENSORY & MOTOR RESEARCH (New York NY: Guilford Publications, c1988-) pp. 90-96 - issn: 0899-0220 - wos: WOS:000468239800013 (12) - scopus: (0)

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