Why do we feel the pain of bad guys more than the good guys?

Whether it be in movies or real life, we don’t tend to feel sorry for the villains. But strangely, and even a bit disturbingly, we often empathize more with the pain they experience. A new study offers a potential answer to this puzzling phenomenon — and it may have something to do with wanting to keep our enemies… » 10/17/13 8:00am 10/17/13 8:00am

When it comes to obsessing about death, Woody Allen has nothing on the…

If you remember the Fraggles as brightly colored, fun-loving creatures partying underground, I have some unsettling news for you: The Fraggles were fucked up. They were more obsessed with death — theirs, others, yours —than any other creature on the planet, as this mind-boggling two-minute video proves. » 4/03/13 2:40pm 4/03/13 2:40pm

Breakthrough research suggests simple ways to reverse chronic pain

People who suffer from chronic pain often feel like the experience dominates their lives, and changes them profoundly. Now, a group of pain researchers and geneticists have discovered that this feeling isn't far from scientific truth. Being in chronic pain changes the way your brain functions on a physical level. The… » 3/27/13 6:54pm 3/27/13 6:54pm

Why do paper cuts hurt so much, and what do they have to do with…

As SciAm's Ferris Jabr explains in the video up top, the short answer is: nociceptors. Many animals have these sensory neurons. Some animals have weird ones. Take naked mole rats, for example — NMRs have mutated sodium channels that limit physiologically "normal" nociceptor firing, thereby blunting sensations of pain. » 11/08/12 12:20pm 11/08/12 12:20pm

Should we eliminate the human ability to feel pain?

In yesterday's Daily Explainer we told you all about pain — why it exists, how it works, and how scientists are trying to quantify its effects. Though pain has clearly served an important evolutionary purpose, not everyone is convinced that we still need it. A growing number of forward-looking thinkers are suggesting… » 9/27/12 9:00am 9/27/12 9:00am

Scientists created a pain measurement scale by burning the hands of…

In the 1940s, a group of doctors at the University of Cornell set out to create a unit of pain intensity. Using the "dol" as a unit, the physicians created a 21-point quantitative scale, but through unusual means — testing pain reactions on medical students and women in labor between contractions. They did this by… » 4/11/12 11:00am 4/11/12 11:00am

The Secret to Eliminating Chronic Pain Forever?

Chronic pain is one of the hardest ailments to treat. You can keep medicating it forever, but over time people build up a tolerance for painkillers. Many people struggle with chronic pain for years. But today, researchers announced they may have found one way to get rid of at least some types of chronic pain forever. » 1/12/12 11:00am 1/12/12 11:00am

Laughter might not cure you, but it'll make it hurt less.

As the unhelpful platitude goes, laughter is the best medicine. Well, it might not be able to cure anything, but laughter does seem to stop the pain. New research published by the Proceedings of the Royal Society links social laughter to a boosted pain threshold. The researchers ran tests in both labs and the wild —… » 9/16/11 5:00pm 9/16/11 5:00pm

An objective way to measure pain? It's closer than you think.

Many doctors rely on patients to indicate levels of pain and discomfort, and while these self-reports are certainly subjective, they can still provide physicians with valuable clinical information. But what happens when patients are unable to talk with their doctors, like in cases of severe cognitive or communicative… » 9/13/11 3:21pm 9/13/11 3:21pm