The Human Brain Processes Rejection Like Physical Pain (According to Science)

As far as the brain is concerned, a broken heart may not be so different from a broken arm.

Scientists at the University Of Michigan Medical School Have stumbled upon a breakthrough in a research based on the human brain which reveals it processes social rejection similar to physical pain. Believe it or not, some of us have a higher natural painkiller dosage engraved in our neurology. 

Dr David T. Hsu led a team who ran tests on a group of 18 participants, including personality and brain tests. The results suggested that people with more resilience in their character had higher natural painkiller activations.

Similarly, the team showed the group pictures of adults on the website and told the participants that the subjects they found attractive were not interested in them. Afterwards, running a PET scan on the participants, they monitored the mu-opioid system of the brain, which showed the same signs of releasing painkillers as when the body is physically wounded.

Dr Hsu made observations about the personalities of the test group which implies that it could factor in on how the activity of their opioid response system, “Individuals who scored high for the resiliency trait on a personality questionnaire tended to be capable of more opioid release during social rejection, especially in the amygdala. This suggests that opioid release in this structure during social rejection may be protective or adaptive.

It is possible that those with depression or social anxiety are less capable of releasing opioids during times of social distress, and therefore do not recover as quickly or fully from a negative social experience.”

In conclusion, the team predict the findings from this study could open up further research into understanding depression and anxiety suffered by people and help them in the future by developing new opioids as effective treatment options.

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