- Researchers at the University of Colorado have found an effective solution to the pain caused by a rupture.
- His curious experiment showed that the best way to overcome a break is to deceive ourselves, to provoke a reaction in the brain that relieves emotional and physical pain.
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Many who read this surely have gone through a love break . Most are painful, literally speaking, there is a real component in what is known as a ‘broken’ heart, which is somatized in the body, say neuroscientists. Is there any effective remedy to overcome this bad drink?
Researchers at the University of Colorado suggest that overcoming a sentimental break is as simple as convincing itself that it has been overcome. To do this they performed an experiment using a placebo that made the participants believe that they were taking a remedy to calm their ills.
“Just believing that we’re doing something to overcome it can help us do it,” said Tor Wager, the study’s lead author and professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado. Placebos are usually effective remedies in other areas of medicine and are used in many cases in which it is to calm strong physical pain. Everything is in believing that what we are doing will lead to a prompt solution of the problem.
Previous research has found that simply thinking that something (usually a placebo) will help relieve pain causes the brain to release more endorphins, which act as natural pain killers.
Wager has studied its effects for 15 years and has come to the conclusion that they are also effective, clinically speaking, when it comes to emotional pain caused by a breakup. In the study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the research team examined a group of 40 volunteers who experienced an “unwanted romantic break” in the past six months. Participants were asked to bring a photo of their ex and a photo of a good friend of the same gender to a brain imaging laboratory in which Wager and his colleagues would perform functional magnetic resonance scans.
First, participants were shown photos of their ex and asked to remember the break. They were then shown the image of the friend they had brought. Throughout this time frame, the researchers administered physical pain through a heat stimulation in the left forearm repeatedly while monitoring the patients’ brain activity. The conclusion was that the regions activated during physical and emotional pain were similar.
Then, the researchers went on to the next phase of the experiment: to test the placebo effect. For this, they gave the participants a nasal spray; Half were told that he was a “powerful pain killer in reducing emotional pain” and half of them were told it was a simple saline solution. The resonance reflected that the placebo had a powerful effect on the ‘healing’ of the anguish. Participants showed increased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of the brain (an area involved in the regulation of emotions) at the same time that areas of the brain linked to rejection showed less activity.
After taking the placebo, the participants were happier when the central gray matter or periaqueductal gray matter of the mesencephalon showed higher levels of activity. This is known to regulate the levels of opioids (chemical analgesics in the brain) and dopamine, along with other neurotransmitters that cause people to feel good. Wager believes that the placebo is what led to the release of these chemicals in the brain.
In short, the study helps us to recognize that the anguish is real and that together with the emotions there is a real physical pain, but it can be alleviated. Wager and his colleagues propose with their research that one of the best ways to overcome a break is to deceive ourselves to overcome it. In other words, doing what we think will help us improve will surely work