While majority of the individuals may pop in pills to ease pain, here is a novel way to get rid of it. Investigators from the University College London and the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy claim that simply looking at the body diminishes pain. It was suggested that viewing the hand decreases the pain experienced when a hot object touches the skin. Also the level of pain seems to depend on how large the hand looks and larger the hand, greater is its effect on pain reduction.
The image formed by the brain of one’s own body allegedly has a massive impact on the experienced level of pain. In fact, the way the body is represented supposedly influences the level of pain endured. In the current study, 18 participants had a heat probe placed on their left hand. When the probe temperature was slowly increased, the volunteers stopped the heat by pressing a foot pedal as soon as they began to feel pain. Having employed a set of mirrors, scientists manipulated what the participants saw during the experiment.
Volunteers always looked towards their left hand, but either saw their own hand, or a wooden object appearing at the hand’s location. Viewing the hand seemingly decreased pain levels as compared to when looking at another object. Even concave and convex mirrors were put to use for displaying the hand as either enlarged or reduced in size. When viewed as enlarged, participants were reportedly able to tolerate even greater levels of heat from the probe than before.
Professor Patrick Haggard said, “Many psychological therapies for pain focus on the painful stimulus, for example by changing expectations, or by teaching distraction techniques. However, thinking beyond the stimulus that causes pain, to the body itself, may have novel therapeutic implications. For example, when a child goes to the doctor for a blood test, we tell them it will hurt less if they don’t look at the needle. Our results suggest that they should look at their arm, but they should try to avoid seeing the needle, if that is possible!”
On seeing the hand smaller than its true size, subjects believably witnessed a rise in pain at lower temperatures than when viewing the hand at its normal size. It was concluded that the experience of pain possibly arises in parts of the brain that represent the size of the body. Experts predict that ‘visual trick’ influence the brain’s spatial maps of the skin, further pointing put the strong link between processing of pain and brain maps of the skin.
The study is published in the journal Psychological Science.