Professor Francis McGlone

Job Title Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience
Telephone +44 (0)151 904 6332
Email Address


Contact Address Room 317 Tom Reilly Building
School of Natural Sciences and Psychology
Liverpool John Moores University 
Byrom Street
L3 3AF

Additional Information:

After completing his PhD in Neurobiology at Sussex University he moved to University of Manchester in 1978 before moving to Liverpool University in 1985 to take up the post of Senior Neuroscientist at the Pain Research Institute. In 1994 he joined Unilever R&D where he built and led a Cognitive Neuroscience group, returning to academia in 2010 to take up his current post as Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience. He is Visiting Professor at Liverpool University, UK - Institute of Psychology Health & Society – and Eminent Visiting Professor at University of Western Sydney, Aus.

Research Interests:

Somatosensation; Affective cognitive neuroscience;


View Publications List

Professional Organisation/Qualifications:

Society for Neuroscience, British Neuroscience Association, British Association of Clinical Neurophysiologists, International Association for the Study of Pain, Association of Applied Psychologists.

Somatosensory & Affective Neuroscience Research Group

  • Professor Francis McGlone
  • Dr Susannah Walker (Co-I on Leverhulme grant)
  • Dr Ralph Pawling (Leverhulme postdoc)
  • Dr Paula Trotter (Leverhulme postdoc)
  • Sharon Smith (postgrad GSK CASE)
  • Professor Rhiannon Corcoran
  • Dr Noreen O’Sullivan
  • Professor Richard Bentall (University of Liverpool)
  • Professor Håkan Olausson
  • Professor Johan Wessberg
  • Dr Rochelle Ackerley (University of Gothenburg)
  • Assoc Professor Susan Francis
  • Dr Rosa Panchuelo
  • Professor Richard Bowtell
  • Dr Paul Glover (Sir Peter Mansfield Magnetic Resonance Centre, University of Nottingham)
  • Professor Vaughan Macefield
  • Dr David Mahns (University of Western Sydney)
  • Dr Donna Lloyd (University of Leeds)
  • Dr Andrew Marshall (University of Manchester)

The skin senses are a truly multisensory modality, with specific populations of cutaneous afferent nerve fibres coding for touch, temperature, pain, itch and ‘pleasure’. A research focus of the group is on the afferent c-fibres that transduce pain, itch and pleasant touch.

We are particularly interested in a recently discovered – in humans – population of mechanosensitive c-fibres that respond to ‘gentle stroking touch’. These nerves - called c-tactile afferents (CT) - have been characterised using psychophysical, microneurography and neuroimaging techniques (fMRI, EEG & PET). The lab is one of the first in the UK to have a microneurography capability.

The research group is interested in the role of CTs in social touch and have recently been awarded a Leverhulme Trust grant – ‘Affective Touch & Human Social Behaviour’ – employing two postdocs. We will study the role of 5-HT in social touch and aim to determine i) how trait differences in sociability affect ratings of pleasant and unpleasant touch as mediated by CT afferents ii) explore whether exposure to affective social touch modulates social cognitions and behaviours iii) establish whether 5-HT differentially modulates perceptual, cognitive and behavioural responses to affective touch and iv) establish the neural basis of trait and state responses to affective touch.

A long term association with the Sir Peter Mansfield Magnetic Resonance Centre, University of Nottingham, is using ultra-high-field fMRI (7T) to further explore the central representation of somatosensory inputs to the brain. A pioneering development here is to couple intraneural microstimulation, during microneurography on single mechanosensitive afferents, with concurrent fMRI acquisition. This is enabling us to study cortical dynamics.

A recent 4-year CASE BBSRC award from GSK will focus on a fuller understanding and characterisation of the neural and behavioural mechanisms engaged during oral sensory processing.

A 3-year PhD studentship from the Pain Relief Foundation (UoL) will study peripheral pain mechanisms with microneurography, characterising the function of myelinated and unmyelinated afferents in normal and neuropathic nerves.

Key references:

James A, Essick G, Kelly D, Tappouni H, McGlone F. (2000) Frequency and site-dependent variations in vibration detection thresholds on the face. Somat & Motor Res 17(4): 349-360

McGlone F, Kelly E, Trulsson M, Francis S, Westling G, Bowtell R. (2002) Functional Neuroimaging Studies of Human Somatosensory Cortex. Behav Brain Res 135(1,2): 147 – 158

Verrillo R, Bolanowski S. & McGlone F (2003) Intra- and Interactive Touch on the Face. Somat & Motor Res 20(1): 3-11

Rolls E, O’Doherty J, Kiingelbach M, Francis S, Bowtell R & McGlone F. (2003) Representation of pleasant and painful touch in the human orbitofrontal cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 13(3):308-17

Cascio C, McGlone F, Folger S, Tannan V, Baranek G, Pelphrey K and Essick G (2007) Tactile perception in adults with autism: a multidimensional psychophysical study. JADD 38(1):127-37

McGlone F, Olausson H, Vallbo A & Wessburg J (2007) Touch and Emotional Touch. Can J Exp Psychol 61(3): 173-183

McCabe C, Rolls ET, Bilderbeck A & McGlone F. (2008) Cognitive influences on the affective representation of touch and the sight of touch in the human brain. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 3: 97-108

Olausson H, Cole J, Vallbo A, McGlone F, Elam M, Krämer H, Rylander K, Wessberg J, & Bushnell C. (2008) Unmyelinated tactile afferents have opposite effects on insular and somatosensory cortical processing. Neuroscience Letters, 436(29): 128-132

Olausson H, Wessberg J, Morrison I, McGlone F, & Vallbo A (2008) The neurophysiology of unmyelinated tactile afferents Neurosci & Biobehav Rev 34(2):185-191

Essick, G., McGlone, F. P., Dancer, C., Fabricant, D., Ragin, Y., Phillips, N., Jones, T. & Guest, S. (2008). Quantitative assessment of pleasant touch. Neurosci & Biobehav Rev 34(2): 192-203

Guest, S., Essick, G., Dessirier, J. M., Blot, K., Lopetcharat, K. & McGlone, F. (2008) Inter- and intrapersonal touch. Acta Psychologica 130 (2): 115-126

Löken, L., Wessberg, J., Morrison, I., McGlone, F. & Olausson, H. (2009) Coding of pleasant touch by unmyelinated afferents in humans. Nat Neurosci 5:547–548

McGlone F & Spence C. (2010) The cutaneous senses: touch, temperature, pain/itch, and pleasure. Neurosci & Biobehav Rev 34(2):145-7

McGlone F & Reilly D (2010) The Cutaneous Sensory System. Neurosci & Biobehav Rev 34(2):148-159

Olausson H, Wessberg J, Morrison I, McGlone F, Vallbo A (2010) The neurophysiology of unmyelinated tactile afferents. Neurosci & Biobehav Rev 34(2):185-91

Bilderbeck AC, McCabe C, Wakeley J, McGlone F, Harris T, Cowen PJ, and Rogers RD (2011) Serotonergic Activity Influences the Cognitive Appraisal of Close Intimate Relationships in Healthy Adults Biol Psychiatry. 69:720-725

McGlone F, Olausson H, Boyle JA, Jones-Gotman M, Dancer D, Guest G and Essick G. (2012) Touching and Feeling: Differences in pleasant touch processing between glabrous and hairy skin in humans. Eu J Neurosci. 35(11):1782-8

Ackerley R, Hassan E, Curran A, Wessberg J, Olausson H, McGlone F (2012). An fMRI study on cortical responses during active self-touch and passive touch from others Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience

Lloyd, D. M., Hall, E., Hall, S., & McGlone, F. P. (2013). Can itch-related visual stimuli alone provoke a scratch response in healthy individuals?. Br J Dermatol, 168(1), 106-111

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