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Fear of Pain

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Tagged As: Biology

Researcher Gregory Berns studied the brain's response to pain anticipation by placing 32 volunteers into an MRI scanner and administering electric shocks into their feet. Participants were informed of how powerful the shock would be and then left to think about it for varying amounts of time before actually being shocked. As the experiment progressed, participants were given the choice of significantly stronger shocks without the wait or weaker shocks while continuing the random wait time. Surprisingly, the experiment showed most people preferred getting a stronger shock 'to get it over with' rather than face the fear of pain. Berns also found that regions of the brain related to focus and attention were stimulated while participants dreaded the coming shock providing evidence to the axiom that, 'the more you pay attention to something that hurts, the more it hurts.'

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