Physical and social pain processed by distinct neural circuits

CU-Boulder study shows differences in brain’s processing of emotional, physical pain – Boulder Daily Camera By Charlie Brennan – 11/18/2014

Neuroscientists in the past decade had largely come to think that physical and social pain are processed by the brain in the same way. But a new study led by CU graduate student Choong-Wan Woo shows the two types of pain actually use separate neural circuits,

“Physical pain and social rejection do activate similar regions of the brain,” Woo said in a news release. “But by using a new analysis tool, we were able to look more closely and see that they are actually quite different.”

The prevailing belief that the two types of pain are neurologically the same had led to some new strategies for treating social pain, even including the use of traditional painkillers, to ease emotional discomfort.  

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