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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2012 May 3;13(6):421-34. doi: 10.1038/nrn3231.

The pain of social disconnection: examining the shared neural underpinnings of physical and social pain.

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University of California, Department of Psychology, 4444 Franz Hall, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


Experiences of social rejection, exclusion or loss are generally considered to be some of the most 'painful' experiences that we endure. Indeed, many of us go to great lengths to avoid situations that may engender these experiences (such as public speaking). Why is it that these negative social experiences have such a profound effect on our emotional well-being? Emerging evidence suggests that experiences of social pain--the painful feelings associated with social disconnection--rely on some of the same neurobiological substrates that underlie experiences of physical pain. Understanding the ways in which physical and social pain overlap may provide new insights into the surprising relationship between these two types of experiences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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