Thinking about death, fearing the unknown and worrying about the future aren’t traditionally considered sources of physical pain, but they may be susceptible to the same pain-killing treatments.
So Daniel Randles, a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia and his colleagues decided to see if the interaction ran deeper. Perhaps, they thought, the pain-processing region in the brain reacts to many types of unexpected, potentially negative events. After all, both pain and social rejection involve unpredictable and distressing events that could lead to behavioral changes to avoid those situations in the future. Uncertainty also tends to increase both types of pain.
“Our research focuses on a particular region of the brain, the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (DACC),” says Randles, the lead author of the study, published in Psychological Science. “This region is known to process physical pain and manage social pain as well.”