The Link Between Nostalgia and Pain Relief

Scientists behind research outlined in a new paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience believe there’s a connection between nostalgia and pain relief. The study (helmed by a team at University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and titled Thalamocortical mechanisms for nostalgia-induced analgesia) involved an experiment in which participants had slight heat applied to their skin, they then rated their pain levels, which changed depending on if they were simultaneously shown images from their past. These “nostalgia-inducing images, such as candy, cartoons, and toys from the era of their childhood… seemed to change activity levels in regions of the brain that scientists think are important to pain perception.” While this alludes to nostalgia as a means to offset pain, “the brain mechanism underlying the analgesic effect of nostalgia remains elusive,” says the researcher team. Find out more about the study and their use of the MRI headsets at INVERSE.

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