Reduced Physical Pain Perception due to Social Pain

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by cathyt123
Last updated 6 years ago

Social Studies

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Reduced Physical Pain Perception due to Social Pain

Neuroscientists have found links between social and physical pain in the brain. In brain imaging, they both activate the cingulate cortex, thalamus, somatosensory area and insula*. Though it makes sense that social pain would increase physical pain, animal and human studies have showed the opposite. In this study, Mancini et al. investigated how monetary loss and social pain modify physical pain. They hypothesized that social pain reduces pain reports and laser-evoked potentials (LEPs).


Perceiving Monetary Loss as due to Inequity Reduces Behavioural and Cortical Responses to Pain

by: Cathy Tran

The researchers found that social pain reduces pain reports and laser-evoked potentials. Those who believed that the character was a real person reported less pain and had lower LEP values in the Unfair Loss condition than in the Win condition. This was not true for those who did not believe this. However, this was true when they experienced unfair loss with their own money compared to losing someone else’s money. Therefore, the results of this study show that social pain decreases physical pain.

The designed experiment allowed participants to interact with a programmed character who caused them social pain. Participants completed a time-estimation task and upon success, the character decided either to give them their monetary winnings or keep them. These two conditions were the Win and Unfair Loss Conditions. The second was the social pain stimulus. Participants were responsible for gaining monetary awards for themselves and another person. After each task, they received a physical pain stimulus – a laser shock on the hand. Brain LEPs were measured during this stimulus, and personal pain reports were given.




Pain Perception Background

Social Pain Stimulus

similar activation

Third Party Choice

Self Choice

Key Pain Centres*

Self Choice--> Greater Social Pain--> Less Physical Pain


Physical Pain Stimulus = Laser

Media Cited:Images:Background: Loss: Stimulus: Evoked Potentials: Brain Analysis Graphs: Centres: Self Choice: Third Party Choice: Links:Article: Evoked Potentials Background: ' Physical Pain Activation: Pain Neuro: Pain:




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