Research Concludes that Emotions Influence Perception of Pain

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In the study, scientists from University of Montreal found that negative and positive emotions have a direct impact on pain. Their research is published in the current edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The research concludes that emotions influence pain.

According to lead author Mathieu Roy, “Our tests revealed when pain is perceived by our brain and how that pain can be amplified when combined with negative emotions.” He continues, “Emotions or mood can alter how we react to pain since they're interlinked.” This confirms that emotions influence pain.

"Our tests revealed when pain is perceived by our brain and how that pain can be amplified when combined with negative emotions," Roy added. As part of the study, 13 subjects were recruited to undergo small yet painful electric shocks, which caused knee-jerk reactions controlled by the spine that could be measured.

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During the fMRI process, subjects were shown a succession of images that were either pleasant (i.e. summer water-skiing), unpleasant (i.e. a vicious bear) or neutral (i.e. a book). Brain reaction was simultaneously measured in participants through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The readings allowed the scientists to divide emotion-related brain activity from pain-related reactions. "We found that seeing unpleasant pictures elicited stronger pain in subjects getting shocks than looking at pleasant pictures," says Dr. Roy. This validates that emotions influence pain.

The discovery gives scientific evidence that pain is governed by mood. This helps build on Dr. Roy's previous studies that showed how pleasant music could decrease aches. "Our findings show that non-pharmaceutical interventions mood enhancers such as photography or music could be used in the healthcare to help alleviate pain. These interventions would be inexpensive and adaptable to several fields," he stresses.

Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona
Exclusive to eMaxHealth

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