December 1, 2023

Nostalgia Can Relieve Pain: Viewing Images From Childhood Reduces Pain Perception

Brain activation of the lingual gyrus and parahippocampal gyrus, locations associated with discomfort perception, was significantly decreased after seeing nostalgic images compared to manage images. Credit: Zhang et al., JNeurosci 2021
Assessing fond memories goes an action beyond making you feel fuzzy and warm: fond memories can minimize discomfort understanding. Fond memories reduces activity in pain-related brain areas and reduces subjective rankings of thermal discomfort, according to research study just recently published in JNeurosci.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences determined the brain activity of adults with fMRI while the participants ranked the fond memories levels of images and ranked the discomfort of thermal stimuli. Viewing nostalgic images lowered discomfort rankings compared to seeing control images, with the strongest effect on low intensity discomfort.
Viewing nostalgic images also reduced activity in the left lingual gyrus and parahippocampal gyrus, 2 brain regions implicated in discomfort perception. Activity in the thalamus, a brain area associated with passing on details in between the body and the cortex, was connected to both nostalgia and discomfort scores; the thalamus might integrate nostalgia info and send it to discomfort paths. Nostalgia may be a drug-free method to reduce low levels of discomfort, like headaches or mild scientific pain.

For more on this research study, see Nostalgia Pain Relief: Viewing Images From Childhood Reduces Pain Perception.
Reference: “Thalamocortical systems for nostalgia-induced analgesia” by Ming Zhang, Ziyan Yang, Jiahui Zhong, Yuqi Zhang, Xiaomin Lin, Huajian Cai and Yazhuo Kong, 1 March 2022, JNeurosci.DOI: 10.1523/ JNEUROSCI.2123-21.2022.