Research reveals the thalamocortical mechanism for nostalgia-induced analgesia

Ever seen that taking a look at photographs of excellent instances with household or pals diminishes the ache of your headache? Nostalgia has already been proven to be useful with ache aid, and a brand new examine has now revealed the thalamocortical mechanism for nostalgia-induced analgesia.

Led by Dr. KONG Yazhuo from the Institute of Psychology of the Chinese language Academy of Sciences, the analysis group discovered that the thalamus, a essential mind area for ache modulation, can also be associated to the analgesic impact related to nostalgia.

Nostalgia, a sentimental eager for one’s previous, is a self-conscious, maybe bittersweet however predominantly constructive social emotion. Nostalgia helps us preserve a constructive psychological standing when counteracting the damaging affect of inauspicious conditions. The adaptive capabilities of nostalgia are many, with one impact being ache aid.

Within the present examine, a nostalgia-related practical MRI paradigm (i.e., nostalgia vs. management cues when individuals had been viewing photos) was mixed with heat-pain stimulation (i.e., low warmth vs. excessive warmth when individuals had been feeling ache) to look at how mind responses elicited by ache stimulation had been modulated after individuals skilled nostalgic emotion.

After observing triggers of childhood recollections, individuals reported experiencing weaker emotions of ache in response to the thermal stimuli, significantly at low stimulus intensities.

Most significantly, the anterior thalamus encoded nostalgia, and the posterior parietal thalamus encoded ache notion. Anterior thalamic activation can predict posterior parietal thalamus activation. “The thalamus performs a key position as a central practical linkage within the analgesic impact,” stated Dr. ZHANG Ming, first creator of the examine.

When individuals had been taking a look at photos, the power of the nostalgia they skilled was additionally strongly related to connectivity between the thalamus and the periaqueductal grey (PAG), an space of grey matter discovered within the midbrain. On this state of affairs, coupling between PAG and the dorsal-lateral prefrontal cortex predicted ache notion when individuals had been feeling ache. This means that the thalamus modulates nociceptive inputs and performs a vital position in triggering the brain-stem analgesic pathway.

Typically individuals expertise delicate scientific ache that is uncomfortable, however not sufficient to require remedy. In these instances, non-drug analgesic ache aid strategies may be useful and even essential.

This examine sheds gentle on the neural mechanisms underlying nostalgia-induced ache aid, offering novel insights into the additional improvement and enchancment of non-drug, psychological analgesia.


Chinese language Academy of Sciences Headquarters

Journal reference:

Zhang, M., et al. (2022) Thalamocortical mechanisms for nostalgia-induced analgesia. JNeurosci.

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