Tom Gilson

I didn’t know it hurt till they put my head in a scanner

To be filed under the heading, “Neuroscience News Flash: Rejection Is Painful”

The regions of the brain that respond to physical pain overlap with those that react to social rejection, according to a study that used brain imaging on people involved in romantic breakups.

“These results give new meaning to the idea that rejection ‘hurts.'”

[From PsycPORT Article]

I just love the way neuroscience adds to our insights.

No, check that sarcasm. I think there’s a lot to be gained from these kinds of studies, and I support them. I just don’t support the pop conclusions some researchers draw from them (or maybe it’s journalists who are to blame).

And I don’t support the breathless sense of discovery that often accompanies articles like this, when it’s something we’ve known all along. We don’t require fancy machinery to tell us what we knew just by being human. It implies that we didn’t know it until we knew it scientifically, which is silly. Rejection was painful before fMRIs were invented.

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5 thoughts on “I didn’t know it hurt till they put my head in a scanner

  1. No, in fact it isn’t silly. You and your granny might be better than me and my granny at sucking eggs, but I doubt whether you knew which parts of the brain are involved in the experience of rejection. 🙂

  2. So what was it that we knew all along before the results of the research were in? That rejection hurts, or what parts of the brain are involved?
    I would have thought that trying to answer the latter question is worthy of research. But, yes, the reporting of scientific work all too frequently trivialises important advances and reinforces the popular and misguided notion that we can get along very nicely without science.

  3. I did say it was worthy of research, Rob. “I think there’s a lot to be gained from these kinds of studies, and I support them. I just don’t support the pop conclusions …” etc.

  4. Hi Tom,

    I enjoyed your closing paragraph. Then again, I’m not in the “scientism” crowd.

Comments are closed.

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