As a child, what was the first thing you did when you fell on your knee? Didn't you run to hug mom or dad. Now science has shown that the feeling of love can actually ease pain, not only emotionally but also physically.
Research conducted at the American Neuroscience Association's Annual Meeting last week confirmed what all parents know: Holding hands, cuddling or showing empathy can help children. they reduce pain.
But one thing that mothers may not know is that holding hands also helps synchronize the brainwaves of two people, helps them to share the pain and thereby feel better.
Simone Shamay-Tsoory, a professor of psychology at Haifa University in Israel, explained: "When we share pain with others, we are essentially activating our brains in the same nervous system that makes us feel our own pain.".
This phenomenon was demonstrated by him and his team in a series of experiments.
Synchronized brain waves from a fist can be a cure for all pain
The hand sharing pain
In the first experiment, Professor Shamay-Tsoory invited several loving couples to join. They are required to hold hands and a person will be exposed to a hot object to stimulate pain sensation, equivalent to a minor burn.
The scientists observed that when the couple held their hands, the more people who suffered burns, the more empathy they felt from their partner, the more their pain felt.
Repeating this experiment with the grip of a stranger showed that the fist was useless this time.
To find out more, why physical contact from a loved one can provide pain relief, the researchers conducted the experiment once again. But this time, they used a new EEG to monitor the brain signals emitted by the two people at the same time.
The unexpected results showed that, while holding hands, the brainwaves of the couples synchronized. Their nerve cells are stimulated in the same areas of the brain, and even the signals they emit are similar.
The more synchronized the signals, the more Shamay-Tsoory professor sees the couple being more sympathetic and the stronger the pain relief effect.
So far, we all know the fist is a symbol of help, he said. "But here, we also point to a mechanism in the brain that explains this effect. We showed for the first time the synchronized brain waves while holding hands, and this support was effective in relieving pain. "
Among the recorded brain waves, the team found a particularly striking alpha wave pattern. This pattern is linked to a reflective neuron system – the neurons that signal in both cases: when you perform an action and when you sit still but observe others doing it. action it.
In this test, action is pain when burned.
The strongest synchronization between couples occurs in the brain regions involved in reflective neurons, as well as in the tactile processing areas. The activity of reflective neurons is part of a network of empathy in the brain, and Professor Shamay-Tsoory speculates that this regional synchronization will predict the pain that couples are sharing.
Brainwaves synchronize while the two hold hands, and this support is effective in reducing pain.
The boundary between the self and the self is blurred
In the latest unpublished research, Professor Shamay-Tsoory conducted the experiment once more. This time, the couple's brain activity was closely monitored under the fMRI magnetic resonance device.
First, the person suffering the pain will be scanned first brain while both still holding hands. Then, they changed positions for people who were not burned into the scanner. In all experiments, both men exhibited strong activity in the lower lobe of the brain, where reflective neurons were located.
Again, the results show that the synchronization of brain signals is closely linked with empathy and analgesic effect. "Perhaps the boundary between the self and the self has been blurred", says Professor Shamay-Tsoory."Perhaps they shared their pain by synchronizing brainwaves, from which the pain level was reduced. "
For people who suffer from pain, holding hands makes the insula area of the brain less active, this is the brain region most active in pain. But for the fist, their insula region didn't work at all, showing that while sharing the pain with their other half, they were really painless.
It is important to note that the pain signals from the arms – what scientists call pain receptors – are completely unchanged at all while couples hold hands. Instead, only the perception of those signals changes.
Juulia Suvilehto, a postdoctoral fellow at Linköping University, Sweden, said: "I don't think any scientist will say that pain receptor signals are greatly influenced by body contact. But, somehow when these signals reach the brain, something happens that makes us feel less painful. "
Suvilehto suspects that the synchronization of the two brains is not the last to produce an analgesic effect. She believed it was only a correlation, not cause-effect.
A fist from your partner can act like a morphine dose for your pain.
To explain Suvilehto proposed several hypotheses for the fist and sympathetic effect can reduce pain signals in the brain.
One is the body stress response. When stressed, people will feel more painful. But when you relax, the pain can be reduced. Similarly, physical contact with loved ones reduces stress, so it can also reduce pain.
Previously, many studies have shown that social interactions can synchronize everyone's breathing and heart rate with each other, as well as this time the brainwaves.
At the same time, pain often increases people's heart rate. A fist from your partner can slow down the pain of a person who is in pain, help them calm down and reduce their attention to the pain.
Another possibility that may explain the symptom is that the sympathetic effect and synchronization of brain waves is inherently pleasant, which activates rewarding areas of the brain, thereby causing an analgesic effect.
But in the end, no matter what the cause, the observations of Professor Shamay-Tsoory and his team showed: A fist from a partner can act like a dose of morphine. for your pain. You should go to the hospital with your lover, or if you don't, go with the person you love most, for example.