Our perception of pain is closely tied to our emotions. Chronic pain sufferers often experience anxiety and depression, and when people suffer such negative emotions their ability to tolerate physical pain is challenged.
Such pain/ emotion connections are consistent with new research showing that the popular pain reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol) appears to dampen our emotional responses.
Geoffrey Durso, a doctoral student from Ohio State University and colleagues gave more than 80 volunteers the equivalent of either two normal-sized 500 mg of Tylenol or placebo pills.
An hour later, the researchers asked the volunteers to rate how they felt when observing various photographs ranging from unpleasant images to pleasant ones.
Regardless of whether the photographs were pleasant or unpleasant, research subjects who took Tylenol reported less extreme emotional reactions to the photos.
Tylenol acts to reduce pain through a brain region known as the insula, which also controls social emotions.
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