When Pain feels like Pleasure

“His opponent had been known to cause seizures, heart attacks, and even death. But Jason McNabb looked remarkably calm as he entered the arena. The whistle blew. Assault came thick and fast – a chaotic rush of watering eyes, swollen lips and perspiration.”

This was no ordinary competition. McNabb held a world record for eating the most Bhut Jolokia peppers in two minutes. “It felt like I had a mouthful of hornets stinging me all at one time. Candidly, it was like pure hell”, he says.

“The Bhut Jolokia, or ‘ghost pepper’ can measure more than a million Scoville units – in other words, it is 200 to 400 times spicier than a jalapeno. It’s one of the hottest in the world, and anyone who takes so much as a nibble is likely to suffer excruciating pain. A reasonable question to ask is: why would anyone do this to themselves?”

(Credit: Guinness World Records)

Jason McNabb is a champion chilli-eater and describes it as “pure hell” (Credit: Guinness World Records)

 

“For McNabb, the pain from the peppers produces a rush that is similar to that produced by food, drugs or sex. “The pain subsided pretty quickly and then it was just the high of the adrenaline and euphoria from the peppers,” Jason explains.”

Why exactly do some people enjoy eye-wateringly hot curries, extreme workouts or sadomasochistic sex?

“Common sense tells us that people seek pleasure and avoid pain. But that’s not always the case – various activities involve pain, including running, hot massages, tattoos, piercings and even BDSM (an abbreviation for bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism and masochism).”

“The link between pleasure and pain is deeply rooted in our biology. For a start, all pain causes the central nervous system to release endorphins – proteins which act to block pain and work in a similar way to opiates such as morphine to induce feelings of euphoria.”

“The relationship will come as no surprise to those who run. Bursts of intense exertion release lactic acid, a by-product of the breakdown of glucose when oxygen is in short supply. The acid irritates pain receptors in the muscles, and these communicate their plight to the brain through electrical messages, sent through the spinal cord. The signals are interpreted as a burning sensation in the legs, usually causing the runner to slow down or stop.”

The ‘runner’s high’ may have enabled our ancestors to endure the pain of a marathon hunt

“That is until the nervous system’s control centre, the hippocampus, kicks in. This seahorse-shaped portion of the brain responds to pain signals by ordering the production of the body’s own narcotics, endorphins. The proteins bind to opioid receptors in the brain and prevent the release of chemicals involved in the transmission of pain signals. This helps block pain, but endorphins go further, stimulating the brain’s limbic and prefrontal regions – the same areas activated by passionate love affairs and music. It’s a post-pain rush similar to the high of morphine or heroin, which also bind to the brain’s opioid receptors.”

Runners get a high after a long workout, but what’s going on in the brain?

“Meanwhile, the pain of intense exercise also causes a spike in another of the body’s painkillers, anandamide. Known as the ‘bliss chemical’, it binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain to block pain signals and induce the warm, fuzzy pleasure emulated by marijuana, which binds to the same receptors. Adrenaline, also produced in response to pain, adds to the excitement by raising the athlete’s heart rate.”

“Burning legs are thought to discourage overexertion, while the ‘runner’s high’ may have enabled our ancestors to endure the pain of a marathon hunt. More generally, the pleasurable post-pain rush is thought to have evolved to help people cope in the immediate aftermath of an injury.”

Why are some types of pain enjoyable, and others just plain agonising?

“One theory to explain it is ‘benign masochism’ – seeking out pain while maintaining the awareness that it won’t cause serious damage. It’s something animals aren’t capable of doing.”

Hot chillis can trigger pleasurable responses... eventually (Credit: Thinkstock)

Hot chillis can trigger pleasurable responses… (Credit: Thinkstock)

“One example is chilli. The active ingredient, capsaicin, is harmless. It hurts because it happens to bind to TRPV1, part of a family of temperature-sensitive receptors in our tongues which alert the body to potentially damaging heat or cold. Activating TRPV1 sends the brain the same signals as if the tongue was actually on fire.”

“Most young children are averse to chilli, but they learn to enjoy it through repeated exposure as they learn to disassociate the fruit with real physical harm. Yet chilli addicts’ tongues are just as sensitive to capsaicin as everyone else’s.”

“We rats are culinarily cunning”

“Pain is a uniquely human indulgence. Scientists have tried, and failed, to induce a preference for chilli in rats. Animals have been trained to self-harm, but only by ‘positive reinforcement’, in which animals are taught to associate pain with a reward. “Generally, when an animal experiences something negative, it avoids it,” explains Paul Rozin, from the University of Pennsylvania.”

“Benign masochism is something that those who engage in BDSM won’t find surprising. Mistress Alexandra, a professional sadist based in London, explains: “We make a difference between good pain and bad pain. Bad pain indicates that something is not right, something we have to pay instant attention to. Then there’s good pain which is enjoyable. For example, when the shoulder starts pulling during bondage, that’s potentially unsafe so we release it.”

“The theory is also thought to explain why we seek out and enjoy other intrinsically unpleasant experiences, such as fear-inducing roller-coasters or sad movies. “If an animal took a roller=coaster it would be scared, and it would never go again.” says Rozin.”

The link between sex and pain is not confined to the world of BDSM.

“One study, in which researchers used fMRI to visualise the brains of women as they stimulated themselves to climax, found that more than 30 areas of the brain were active, including those involved in pain. Another found that cancer survivors, who had nerves in their spinal cord cut to relieve chronic abdominal pain, lost the ability to have orgasms. If their pain returned, so did the orgasms.”‘

“Barry Komisaruk from Rutgers University, who authored the imaging study, thinks there’s a fundamental link between pain and orgasm pathways. “Another observation is that the facial expressions during orgasm are often indistinguishable from those in pain,” he says.”

“Along these lines, a study into how paracetamol affects emotions found that the painkilling drug not only relieves emotional pain, but also blunts feelings of pleasure. In the study, students were given either paracetamol or a placebo, and asked to rate the intensity of their emotions towards a series of provocative photographs. The drug leveled off highs as well as lows – an indicator that it operates on shared biological pathways.”

For human beings, then, it appears that pain and pleasure have always been intertwined.  Pass the chili’s . . .

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20151001-why-pain-feels-good

Why don’t facts matter to our inquiring minds?

“People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for.” –Harper Lee

Tali Sharot is the author of, “The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others.” An associate professor of cognitive neuroscience, she is the director of the Affective Brain Lab at University College London. The information and opinions expressed are hers.

Why does evidence seem to have little influence on people’s beliefs?

“To many of us who study the human mind, the diminishing influence of evidence is less a puzzle than a prototypical example of how the mind forms beliefs. And the very idea that simply providing people with data would be sufficient to alter their beliefs is condemned to fail.”

“The very first thing we need to realize is that beliefs are like fast cars, designer shoes, chocolate cupcakes and exotic holidays: they affect our well-being and happiness. So just as we aspire to fill our fridge with fresh fare and our wardrobe with nice attire, we try to fill our minds with information that makes us feel strong and right, and to avoid information that makes us confused or insecure.”

“It’s not only in the domain of politics that people cherry-pick news; it is apparent when it comes to our health, wealth and relationships. Many individuals avoid medical screenings in an attempt to evade alarming information.”

Using . . .” non-invasive brain imaging techniques, my colleagues and I have recently gathered evidence that suggests our brain reacts to desirable information as it does to rewarding stimuli like food, and reacts to undesirable information as it does to aversive stimuli like electric shocks. So, just as we are motivated to seek food and avoid shocks, we are also motivated either to seek or avoid incoming information.”

Confirmation Bias

“Of course, we do not always turn away from uncomfortable data. We do undergo medical tests, face our debts and occasionally read columns written by people who hold different political views than ours. But on average we are more likely to seek confirmation of what we believe (or want to believe.

“Unfortunately, the solution is not as simple as providing people with full and accurate information. When you provide someone with new data they quickly accept evidence that confirms their preconceived notions and assess counter evidence with a critical eye.

“For example, my colleagues and I also conducted a study in which we presented information to people who believe that climate change is man-made as well as to people who were skeptics. We found that both groups strengthened their pre-existing beliefs when the new data confirmed their original position, but ignored data that challenged their views.”

“Such effects are examples of the confirmation bias. It is not new. But today, as information is more readily accessible and people are frequently exposed to different opinions and data points, this bias is likely to have an even greater role in shaping people’s beliefs — moving ideological groups to extremes.”
“And while you may assume such biases are a trait of the less intelligent, the opposite is true. Scientists discovered that those with stronger quantitative abilities are more likely to twist data at will. When volunteers in that study were given data about the effectiveness of gun control laws that did not support their views, they used their math skills not to draw more accurate conclusions, but to find fault with the numbers they were given.
Why have human beings’ brains evolved to discard perfectly valid information when it does not fit their preferred view? This seems like bad engineering, so why hasn’t this glitch been corrected?”

Confidently-held opinions are difficult to change.

“Cognitive scientists have proposed an intriguing answer: our brain assesses new information in light of the knowledge it has already stored, because in most cases that is, in fact, the optimal approach. More likely than not, when you encounter a piece of data that contradicts what you believe with confidence, that piece of data is in fact wrong.”

“They are even more difficult to change once people act on them. Research has shown that immediately after making an overt choice, our conviction strengthens as we tend to rationalize our choices to ourselves and others.”

“So while data is important for uncovering the truth, it is not enough for convincing people of that truth.”
“We should not, however, be discouraged. The solution, I believe, is not to fight the way our brain works, but to go along with it. We should take our biases into account and use them when trying to convey our truth.”

How many times a week to reduce pain?

Neuroscientist Kolber wanted to know if the length of time spent exercising makes a difference in the amount of relief patients get. Could boosting the exercise level, or “the dose,” bring more relief?

“Anyone who develops any drug has to go through hundreds of different tests looking at dose,” Kolber says, “but in exercise there’s almost no data about dose — especially in the context of pain.”

“He conducted a small, weeklong study measuring 40 healthy women’s sensitivity to pain before and after bouts of exercise, using heat and pressure to elicit pain. The individuals were asked to walk briskly on a treadmill for 30 minutes. Some exercised three times that week, others five or 10 times.”

“He and his team found there was no difference in pain perception after exercise for those who walked just three times a week.”

The findings were very different for the people who exercised

five times or more each week.

“We asked them to rate that pain,” he says. “And at the end of the study, they rated the same pressure — the exact same pressure — as 60% less painful than they rated it at the beginning of the study.”

Frankly Freddie, Ode to Halloween

Orange pumpkins, black cats
skeletons, and scary bats
mummies that horrify
Witches flying through the sky
Thank goodness witches aren’t like birds
screeching and dropping turds

My Halloween costume as Woofer

Check out our Halloween collection – towels, gift boxes, mugs and more at Zazzle. Click here.

And of course ME! I have my own personal link

Magnetic Personality - Refrigerator Magnet

Magnetic Personality – Refrigerator Magnet

https://www.zazzle.com/magnetic_personality_freddie_magnet-147654385412041629?rf=238839338260475790

 

https://www.zazzle.com/collections/halloween_kitty_and_witches-119280600703337771?rf=238839338260475790

How Your Brain Works Against Weight-Loss

A study carried out in mice may help explain why dieting can be an inefficient way to lose weight: key brain cells act as a trigger to prevent us burning calories when food is scarce.

“Weight loss strategies are often inefficient because the body works like a thermostat and couples the amount of calories we burn to the amount of calories we eat,” says Dr Clémence Blouet from the Metabolic Research Laboratories at University of Cambridge. “When we eat less, our body compensates and burns fewer calories, which makes losing weight harder. We know that the brain must regulate this caloric thermostat, but how it adjusts calorie burning to the amount of food we’ve eaten has been something of a mystery.”

“USEFUL MODEL”???!!!!

What to do (and not to do) to survive a disaster

Ay Yi Yiii Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

  • In 2011 there was an earthquake in Japan. People risked their lives to . . . save bottles of alcohol.
  • In 2017 a plane caught on fire at an airport in Denver. People fleeing from the plane . . . stopped to take selfies.
  • In Dubai when a plane was on fire . . . people tried to collect their bags.

People argue while their ship is sinking, stand on the beach as a tsunami approaches. In fact 80-90% of people will respond to a crisis in ways that decrease rather than increase their safety. They may be in a deadly situation, but do not act fast enough to save themselves.

In most disasters, people wait–they do not panic, they do not stampede . . . they wait

There is a failure to adapt–especially in unfamiliar environments like a burning plane or sinking ship. Especially in a stressful situation, more thought about what to do is needed, but the situation moves faster than our ability to adapt to what is a new experience.

What to avoid doing (easier said than done):

1. FREEZING

One of the natural responses to danger is to freeze. (Psychologists now add “freeze” to fight or flight.) Your brain stops you, even though you have plenty of adrenaline.

It isn’t intelligence that matters–in emergency situations your thinking brain can shut down. You enter a fight or flight situation-or you freeze.

2. INABILITY TO THINK.

We use our working memory to make quick decisions. (When faced with a new, first time disaster there is no working memory.)

Disasters happen fast (plane manufacturers must show that a plane can be evacuated in 90 seconds-because the risk of the cabin being consumed by the fire increases sharply after this). But our brains do not work that fast most of the time in part because we need to invent a new strategy

  • The speed at which we can go through our options is limited and usually slower than the unfolding crisis.
  • The brain is flooded with dopamine (a feel good chemical) which also triggers the release of more hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. in a disaster as the body prepares for the disaster.
  • Then to make matters worse for figuring out what to do next . . .  the prefrontal cortex (where we think things over) shuts down because of cortisol & adrenaline.

3. Having TUNNEL VISION

In a crisis, it is unlikely that most people can respond creatively about the problem. Instead, what we do is keep using the same solution over and over, even without good results.

Tunnel vision is also seen in people with permanent damaged to their prefrontal cortex. So the brain’s stress response of shutting down this region might be to blame for inflexible thinking in moments of crisis.

4. Staying STUCK IN ROUTINE

James Goff, a specialist in disaster and emergency management at the University of Hawaii has seen shocking reactions to disaster. People will risk their life to retrieve their wallet. It seems crazy, but it is common. This refers to continuing with everyday routines when faced with a crisis.  He says,

“Being in a situation where your life is in danger increases your emotional arousal, and high arousal causes people to limit the number of alternatives they consider. That can be bad when trying to determine a course of action, since you may never consider the option most likely to result in escaping safely.”

5. DENIAL

“Invariably over 50% of the population do it, they go down to the sea to watch the tsunami,” says Goff. “They act as if nothing untoward is happening.” Denial usually happens because:

  • We don’t see the situation as dangerous, or
  • We don’t want to see it as dangerous.
  • We are not good at calculating risk.
  • We rely on our feelings, and sometimes reassure ourselves we will be OK. (Cancer patients wait four months on average before seeing a doctor. On 9/11 people who survived and were on the upper floors of New York World Trade Center waited an average of five minutes after the attacks before they started to evacuate.)

Why can’t we turn these reflexes off?

In everyday life, our brains are reliant on familiarity. Mindlessly getting our bag when the plane lands helps free up mental space to focus on new stuff we need to attend to.

In an emergency, adjusting to the new situation may be more than our brains can handle–so we keep doing what we have done before.

WHAT TO DO:

HAVE A PLAN AND PRACTICE “What if?”

If we can’t rely on our instincts, what can we do?

The best way is to replace automatic but not helpful reactions with ones that could save your life by practicing. You have to practice and practice until the survival technique is the dominant behavior.  It’s a bit hard to practice for a tsunami but you can IMAGINE.

Taking some time to imagine “what if”.  “Ask yourself one simple question, “If something happens, what is my first response? Once you can answer that, everything else will fall into place. 

THE GOOD NEWS – OTHER PEOPLE

Research shows that in most scenarios, groups of people are more likely to help each other than hinder. “In emergencies, the norm is cooperation . . .  Selfish behavior is very mild and tends to be policed by the crowd rather than spreading.”*

“Psychologists call this response “collective resilience”: an attitude of mutual helping and unity in the middle of danger.”

People’s tendency to cooperate during emergencies increases the chances of survival for everyone. “Individually, the best thing tactically is to go along with the group interest. In situations where everyone acts individually, which are very rare, that actually decreases effective group evacuation.”*

 LUCK MATTERS 

but sometimes what is needed is a good dose of luck.

____________________________________

*Chris Cocking, studies crowd behavior at the University of Brighton.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170711-what-not-to-do-in-a-disaster

“Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why” by Laurence Gonzales