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Friday, December 25, 2009

Some people 'really feel pain of others'

Some people 'really feel pain of others'

May not be all, but some people really do feel the pain of others, say researchers.

A new study by Birmingham University has found that around one in three people actually feel physical discomfort when they see someone else in agony, leading British newspaper 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.

For the study, the researchers conducted an experiment in which they invited 123 university students to watch video clips and photographs of patients and sports stars in painful situations.

The videos included a footballer breaking his leg, a tennis player turning over his left ankle and a patient getting an injection in the hand.

All the students said that, for at least one of the images or videos, they had an "emotional reaction" -- such as feeling sad, disgusted or fearful. But a third, also claimed to feel real pain in the same part of the body as the victim they were watching.

Some experienced tingling or aching, others felt a heavy or stabbing pain. For some the pain was fleeting -- others complained that it lasted for several seconds, the findings revealed.

A picture of an athlete running on a racetrack with a clearly broken leg generated the most physical pain in the students, according to the researchers.

The researchers then asked 10 of these "hypersensitive" students to repeat the experiment while their brains were being scanned with fMRI -- the functional magnetic resonance imaging used in hospitals.

Subsequently, the results were compared with the scans from 10 people who said they felt nothing while looking at the upsetting images. The researchers found that while viewing the painful pictures, both groups showed activity in the parts of the brain that deal with emotions.

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