When "The Big Bang Theory's" Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) finally capitulates to girlfriend Amy Farrah Fowler's (Mayim Bialik) insistence that he hold her hand, he can't help but list what he says are the downsides of such unseemly personal contact: sweatiness, deficient hygiene — and well, "It just looks dumb."
It just goes to show that understanding string theory isn't much use when it comes to uncovering the powers of intimate human contact.
Luckily, research scientists from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and University of Haifa in Israel were fascinated by the power of pain to disrupt relationships — and the power of touch to heal them.
In their new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 22 committed heterosexual couples, 23 to 32 years old, were tracked before and after the woman was exposed to mild pain.
The researchers found that the twosome's brain waves fell out of sync when the woman experienced pain, and back in sync when they held hands. The brain-syncing touch eased the woman's perception of pain.
So-called interpersonal synchronization happens when people who are close mirror one another's physiology. But the researchers say it appears that pain totally interrupts interpersonal synchronization between couples — and, amazingly, touch restores it.
Your touchpoint? Chronic pain disrupts the life and brainwaves of the person experiencing it; but it's also disruptive for those near and dear.
Hugs, gentle massage, holding hands, simple gestures of touching affection between various partners can help the person in pain feel better.
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