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Apr 5, 2010
Hurt feelings 'worse than pain' (link) 
The old adage "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt", simply is not true, according to researchers. Psychologists found memories of painful emotional experiences linger far longer than those involving physical pain. They quizzed volunteers about painful events over the previous five years. Writing in the journal Psychological Science, they said evolutionary brain changes which allow us to work better in groups or societies could be key.
The cerebral cortex may also have had an unintended effect of allowing humans to relive, re-experience and suffer from social pain. - Zhansheng Chen, Indiana
The volunteers, all students, were asked to write about painful experiences, both physical and emotional, then given a difficult mental test shortly afterwards. The principle was that the more painful the recalled experience, the less well the person would perform in the tests. Test scores were consistently higher in those recalling physical rather than "social" pain. Psychological scoring tests revealed that memories of emotional pain were far more vivid.
   SOCIAL EVOLUTION - Researcher Zhansheng Chen, from Purdue University in Indiana, said that it was much harder to "re-live" physical pain than to recall social pain. He said the evolution of a part of the brain called the cerebral cortex, which processes complex thinking, perception and language, might be responsible. 
   It certainly improved the ability of human beings to create and adapt, to function in and with groups, communities and cultures, and to respond to pain associated with social interactions. However, the cerebral cortex may also have had an unintended effect of allowing humans to relive, re-experience and suffer from social pain.
      - Zhansheng Chen, Indiana
The researchers now plan to repeat the experiment in older people, who are more likely to have experienced chronic pain.
Michael Hughesman, a child psychologist based in Germany, agreed that it was likely that emotional pain was handled in a different part of the brain from physical pain, and likely to be longer-lasting.
   There is something very intangible about emotional damage - with physical pain, you can see the bruise, but in emotional abuse there is often fear and anxiety which remains. If someone tells you in the playground that they are going to get you after school, then you tend to be anxious and afraid about it far more than if someone just punches you there and then. 
      - Michael Hughesman, Germany 
Thanks to my friend, Cissy, who posted this news in C2NN a year ago...that's how I came across it. From BBC NEWS | Health | Hurt feelings 'worse than pain'
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Posted: Apr 5, 2010 4:30am
Nov 20, 2009

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Posted: Nov 20, 2009 5:00pm
Aug 5, 2008

From Memory, Depression, Insomnia -- And Worms?:

Researchers have spent decades probing the causes of depression, schizophrenia and insomnia in humans. But a new study may have uncovered key insights into the origins of these and other conditions by examining a most unlikely research subject: worms

The project, which was led by Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Kenneth Miller, Ph.D., examined the way eye-less microscopic worms known as C. elegans shy away from certain kinds of light. The researchers made several key findings, chief among them that exposing paralyzed C. elegans to ultraviolet light restored normal levels of movement in the worms.

 Miller’s discovery provides a window for understanding how the molecular signals in our nerve cells allow them to talk to each other to produce perceptions, behaviors, learning and memory.

Miller said he thinks the worms are hardwired to avoid damaging or lethal doses of direct sunlight, which includes UV rays.

“When you are only a few cells thick, getting a sunburn is fatal,” he said.

Miller emphasized that the research is still in its early stages. “We’re a long way from any treatments based on this research, but I think we’ve opened up a door that we didn’t know was there before,” he said. “There’s a lot of work left to be done, but I’m excited to see where this discovery leads us.”

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Posted: Aug 5, 2008 6:03am


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Jenny Dooley
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