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Pain relief provided by an outgroup member enhances analgesia


Hein, Grit; Engelmann, Jan B; Tobler, Philippe N (2018). Pain relief provided by an outgroup member enhances analgesia. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 285(1887):online.

Abstract

Pain feels different in different social contexts, yet the mechanisms behind social pain modulation remain poorly understood. To elucidate the impact of social context on pain processing, we investigated how group membership, one of the most important social context factors, shapes pain relief behaviourally and neurally in humans undergoing functional neuroimaging. Participants repeatedly received pain relief from a member of their own group (ingroup treatment) or a member of a disliked outgroup (outgroup treatment). We observed a decrease in pain ratings and anterior insula (AI) pain responses after outgroup treatment, but not after ingroup treatment. Moreover, path analyses revealed that the outgroup treatment induced a stronger relief learning in the AI, which in turn altered pain processing, in particular if the participant entered the treatment with a negative impression toward the outgroup individual. The finding of enhanced analgesia after outgroup treatment is relevant for intergroup clinical settings. More generally, we found that group membership affects pain responses through neural learning and we thus elucidate one possible mechanism through which social context impacts pain processing.

Abstract

Pain feels different in different social contexts, yet the mechanisms behind social pain modulation remain poorly understood. To elucidate the impact of social context on pain processing, we investigated how group membership, one of the most important social context factors, shapes pain relief behaviourally and neurally in humans undergoing functional neuroimaging. Participants repeatedly received pain relief from a member of their own group (ingroup treatment) or a member of a disliked outgroup (outgroup treatment). We observed a decrease in pain ratings and anterior insula (AI) pain responses after outgroup treatment, but not after ingroup treatment. Moreover, path analyses revealed that the outgroup treatment induced a stronger relief learning in the AI, which in turn altered pain processing, in particular if the participant entered the treatment with a negative impression toward the outgroup individual. The finding of enhanced analgesia after outgroup treatment is relevant for intergroup clinical settings. More generally, we found that group membership affects pain responses through neural learning and we thus elucidate one possible mechanism through which social context impacts pain processing.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Immunology and Microbiology, General Agricultural and Biological Sciences, General Environmental Science, General Medicine
Language:English
Date:26 September 2018
Deposited On:15 Oct 2018 12:23
Last Modified:15 Oct 2018 12:23
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
Series Name:Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences
ISSN:0962-8452
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2018.0501
Official URL:http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/285/1887/20180501
Related URLs:http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100019_176016
  • : Project TitleMechanisms for social learning
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100014_165884
  • : Project TitleThe role of dopamine in value-based decision making

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