Do you believe that love conquers all? If you do, you probably won’t be surprised by the following study. It turns out that being in love can actually dull pain perception. What’s more, it works in a different way that painkillers do.
Dr. Sean Mackey, chair of the pain management division at Stanford University, has been studying pain for his entire career. He has become an expert at analyzing how the brain reacts to pain, by relying on functional MRI (fMRI), which are sophisticated brain scans that can show which areas of the brain are active while subjects are given specific tasks, such as looking at pictures or feeling mild bursts of pain. But it wasn’t until he happened to share a hotel room at a neuroscience conference with a researcher who had spent just as much time exploring the biological basis of love that he thought about testing what role love could have in regulating pain.