An Italian research team, led by study author Giorgina Celani, conducted measurements of the brain function activities of participants in an experiment using magnetic resonance imaging. Researchers said that this study is innovative compared to previous studies that examined the relationship between physical and social pain, as the study revealed that a person feels physical pain when he feels depressed or when he loses a dear person, or sees him going through distress, or finds him socially isolated. The results were published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
In one experiment, videos of real people going through crises were used, and in another experiment, it was a game between a group in which a person was excluded from the group to create a feeling of social pain due to his exposure to isolation.
The experiments showed that the conditions to which the participants were exposed activated the posterior cortex of the brain, which is the area associated with the feeling of physical pain and is activated if the person witnesses someone close to him being exposed to painful social or physical conditions. The study shows that a person’s goal is often to “escape pain and heal,” and this is what drives the person to feel pain and feel with others, and sympathize with them when they face problems.