Love lessens Pain


Love is like a drug!! It activates the primitive reward system region, the same brain region that is stimulated by analgesics and pain relieving opioid and addictive drugs.
Love, like distracting activities, distract you from pain alleviating its symptoms.

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” Two researchers—pain specialist Sean Mackey at Stanford and love specialist Arthur Aron at S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook—met at a neuroscience conference. They realized they were talking about the same brain region.

So back at Stanford, researchers recruited 15 undergrads in the early euphoric throes of a relationship. The volunteers had photos of the romantic partner and of an attractive acquaintance. As they looked at the photos, their palms were safely heated to mild pain. Then the volunteers repeated the experiment but were distracted by tasks such as: think of sports that don’t use balls. Previous research found that distraction can ease pain.

Both distraction and the pictures of new loves reduced pain. But, the love photo acted in a totally different area of the brain—the primitive reward system region that lights up where addictive drugs work, and where pain-relieving opioids do their magic. The study was published in Public Library of Science One. [Jarred Younger et al., Viewing Pictures of a Romantic Partner Reduces Experimental Pain: Involvement of Neural Reward Systems]

So the next time you’re in pain, maybe you don’t need to pop a pill. Just fall in love.”
—Cynthia Graber

And here is the study by Mackey and Aron

Abstract
The early stages of a new romantic relationship are characterized by intense feelings of euphoria, well-being, and preoccupation with the romantic partner. Neuroimaging research has linked those feelings to activation of reward systems in the human brain. The results of those studies may be relevant to pain management in humans, as basic animal research has shown that pharmacologic activation of reward systems can substantially reduce pain. Indeed, viewing pictures of a romantic partner was recently demonstrated to reduce experimental thermal pain. We hypothesized that pain relief evoked by viewing pictures of a romantic partner would be associated with neural activations in reward-processing centers. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we examined fifteen individuals in the first nine months of a new, romantic relationship. Participants completed three tasks under periods of moderate and high thermal pain: 1) viewing pictures of their romantic partner, 2) viewing pictures of an equally attractive and familiar acquaintance, and 3) a word-association distraction task previously demonstrated to reduce pain. The partner and distraction tasks both significantly reduced self-reported pain, although only the partner task was associated with activation of reward systems. Greater analgesia while viewing pictures of a romantic partner was associated with increased activity in several reward-processing regions, including the caudate head, nucleus accumbens, lateral orbitofrontal cortex, amygdala, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – regions not associated with distraction-induced analgesia. The results suggest that the activation of neural reward systems via non-pharmacologic means can reduce the experience of pain.

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