Ethan Kross, Marc G. Berman, Walter Mischel, Edward E. Smith, Tor D. Wager

How similar are the experiences of social rejection and physical pain? Extant research suggests that a network of brain regions that support the affective but not the sensory components of physical pain underlie both experiences. Here we demonstrate that when rejection is powerfully elicited—by having people who recently experienced an unwanted break-up view a photograph of their ex-partner as they think about being rejected—areas that support the sensory components of physical pain (secondary somatosensory cortex; dorsal posterior insula) become active. We demonstrate the overlap between social rejection and physical pain in these areas by comparing both conditions in the same individuals using functional MRI. We further demonstrate the specificity of the secondary somatosensory cortex and dorsal posterior insula activity to physical pain by comparing activated locations in our study with a database of over 500 published studies. Activation in these regions was highly diagnostic of physical pain, with positive predictive values up to 88%. These results give new meaning to the idea that rejection “hurts.” They demonstrate that rejection and physical pain are similar not only in that they are both distressing—they share a common somatosensory representation as well.

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3 Responses to Ethan Kross, Marc G. Berman, Walter Mischel, Edward E. Smith, Tor D. Wager

  1. shinichi says:

    Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain

    by Ethan Kross, Marc G. Berman, Walter Mischel, Edward E. Smith and Tor D. Wager

    (2011)

    http://www.pnas.org/content/108/15/6270.abstract

  2. shinichi says:

    Study illuminates the ‘pain’ of social rejection

    by Diane Swanbrow

    Michigan News, University of Michigan

    http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/8332-study-illuminates-the-pain-of-social-rejection

    Physical pain and intense feelings of social rejection “hurt” in the same way, a new study shows. The study demonstrates that the same regions of the brain that become active in response to painful sensory experiences are activated during intense experiences of social rejection.

    “These results give new meaning to the idea that social rejection ‘hurts’,” said University of Michigan social psychologist Ethan Kross, lead author of the article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “On the surface, spilling a hot cup of coffee on yourself and thinking about how rejected you feel when you look at the picture of a person that you recently experienced an unwanted break-up with may seem to elicit very different types of pain.

    “But this research shows that they may be even more similar than initially thought.”

    Kross, an assistant professor at the U-M Department of Psychology and faculty associate at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR), conducted the study with U-M colleague Marc Berman, Columbia University’s Walter Mischel and Edward Smith, also affiliated with the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and with Tor Wager of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

    While earlier research has shown that the same brain regions support the emotionally distressing feelings that accompany the experience of both physical pain and social rejection, the current study is the first known to establish that there is neural overlap between both of these experiences in brain regions that become active when people experience painful sensations in their body.

    These regions are the secondary somatosensory cortex and the dorsal posterior insula.

    For the study, the researchers recruited 40 people who experienced an unwanted romantic break-up within the past six months, and who indicated that thinking about their break-up experience led them to feel intensely rejected. Each participant completed two tasks in the study?one related to their feelings of rejection and the other to sensations of physical pain.

    During the rejection task, participants viewed either a photo of their ex-partner and thought about how they felt during their break-up experience or they viewed a photo of a friend and thought about a recent positive experience they had with that person. During the physical pain task, a thermal stimulation device was attached to participants left forearm. On some trials the probe delivered a painful but tolerable stimulation akin to holding a very hot cup of coffee. On other trials it delivered non-painful, warm stimulation.

    Participants performed all tasks while undergoing functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans. The researchers conducted a series of analyses of the fMRI scans, focusing on the whole brain and on various regions of interest identified in earlier studies of physical pain. They also compared the study’s results to a database of more than 500 previous fMRI studies of brain responses to physical pain, emotion, working memory, attention switching, long-term memory and interference resolution.

    “We found that powerfully inducing feelings of social rejection activate regions of the brain that are involved in physical pain sensation, which are rarely activated in neuroimaging studies of emotion,” Kross said. “These findings are consistent with the idea that the experience of social rejection, or social loss more generally, may represent a distinct emotional experience that is uniquely associated with physical pain.”The team that performed the research hopes that the findings will offer new insight into how the experience of intense social loss may lead to various physical pain symptoms and disorders. And they point out that the findings affirm the wisdom of cultures around the world that use the same language?words like “hurt” and “pain”?to describe the experience of both physical pain and social rejection.

    The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and performed at Columbia University.

    Established in 1949, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) is the world’s largest academic social science survey and research organization, and a world leader in developing and applying social science methodology, and in educating researchers and students from around the world. ISR conducts some of the most widely-cited studies in the nation, including the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, the American National Election Studies, the Monitoring the Future Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Health and Retirement Study, the Columbia County Longitudinal Study and the National Survey of Black Americans. ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects, and the Institute has established formal ties with universities in Poland, China, and South Africa. ISR is also home to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the world’s largest digital social science data archive. Visit the ISR Web site at http://www.isr.umich.edu for more information.

  3. shinichi says:

    心が痛いのは“脳”のせい? 「失恋」の正しい乗り越え方

    http://ure.pia.co.jp/articles/-/19216

    失恋すると、心が痛くて苦しいですよね。この「心が痛い」というのは、同じ失敗をしないための自己防衛本能なのです。今回は、失恋がもたらす身体への影響や乗り越え方についてお話します。

    失恋すると、心が痛くて苦しいですよね。
    この「心が痛い・・・・・・」というのは、同じ失敗をしないための自己防衛本能なのです。
    だから痛い思いをした人ほど「いい男」を見極める目を持てるようになり、幸せになれるんですよ!

    心が痛いのは脳のせい?

    2011年5月30日掲載の“Science Daily”によると「身体的な痛み及び失恋した時の心の痛みは同じ脳の領域で処理される」ということが発表されました。

    失恋したばかりの40人の被験者に、(1)失恋した恋人の写真と(2)友人の写真を順番に見せ、見た時の脳の状態をFMRIでスキャンし、その分析結果として、身体的痛みを感じる脳領域の脳反応が非常に活性化されているという結果が出たのだそうです。

    人の感情を司るのは、前頭葉の眼窩前頭皮質(がんかぜんひしつ)だと言われています。その名前の由来は、眼窩とは、頭蓋骨の眼球の収まるくぼみ部分で、その眼科の真上にある脳領域だからだそうです。人はここで、意思決定の認知処理、つまり自分が感じた感情が何であるかを認識するのです。

    失恋した時に、胸が苦しく、熱が出たり食欲不振や倦怠感等で体調を壊したりするのは、感情の認知処理に誤解が生じて、身体の痛みを感じる脳の領域を刺激するからだそうです。

    そもそも脳の痛みを感じる領域はさまざまな場所にあって非常に複雑ですから、病気の場合でも体の痛みは炎症が生じている痛みの核よりも広範囲に感じるものだそうです。時には全く違った場所に感じる場合もあります。だから胃が痛いのに心臓の病気だったりする事があるわけです。

    まだまだ脳には未知の部分がたくさんあるので理由はわかりませんが、失恋することによって、激しい悲しみや喪失感を感じるような情報を眼窩前皮質が感知すると、身体的痛みを感じる脳領域を刺激するような信号をどういうわけか送ってしまうのです。

    微熱、食欲喪失、心の痛み、倦怠感等はこれが原因です。酷い場合はストレス性心筋症という心臓の病気を一時的に起こすこともあるそうです。但し、これは誤刺激ですから時間が経つと痛みは解消されます。「時間が解決してくれる」という言葉はここから生じています。

    身体の痛みは無意識のうちに体が覚えて、次は同じ痛みを感じないようにするものです。そうすれば、失恋についても体が覚えてくれることを眼窩頭皮質が期待しているのかもしれません。

    心の痛みの原因を考えることが大切です

    失恋の原因は、深層心理では失恋する前に何となく気付いていたはずです。恋人の行動・癖・言葉で少しずつ傷ついてあなたの心も壊れかけていたかもしれません。何となくお互いの心が離れていく様子を感じていたかもしれませんね。
    恋人との関係が壊れたのはどちらが悪いと割り切れるものではなく、相性の問題もあります。もしかしたら、自分が恋人を信じきれずに、大騒ぎして彼を傷つけてしまったことが原因かもしれません。

    だから、体の痛みで寝込んでいる間に眼窩前皮質が認識した感情を自分でしっかり分析しましょう。病院が病気の原因を徹底的に検査してくれるように、あなたも失恋の原因を心や体の痛みをやみくもに忘れることで癒すのではなく、原因を分析して、恋人に対する気持ちも冷めて失恋を癒すことができると良いのですが・・・・・・。

    失恋に向き合うのはきっと辛いことでしょう。
    でも、頑張って立ち直ったあなたは、以前よりもずっと素敵な女性になっているのですよ☆

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