Verbal Stimuli Can Activate Pain

JENA, Germany, March 31 (UPI) — Not only do painful memories and associations put the brain on alert, verbal stimuli also lead to pain reactions in the brain, German researchers said.

Dr. Thomas Weiss of the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena and his team say the findings explains why a physician giving a vaccine and saying, “This will only hurt for a second,” offers no solace at all.


Weiss said once a person associates the pain of the needle with the verbal statement “it’ll only hurt for a second,” at a later date, as soon as the needle touches either a child’s or adult’s skin the piercing pain can be felt very clearly.

“After such an experience it is enough to simply imagine a needle at the next vaccination appointment to activate our pain memory,” Weiss said in a statement.

“These findings show that words alone are capable of activating our pain matrix — our results suggest as well that verbal stimuli have a more important meaning than we have thought so far.”

The findings are published in the journal Pain.

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