We may often feel pain around our bodies that triggered by various types of stimulation, such as heat, cold, pressure, skin damage, illness, injury – even heartbreaks have been recognized as pain that can be felt physically. But have you ever thought about pain felt in a body part that no longer exists? This kind of pain is known as phantom limb pain, which is often experienced by individuals who have undergone removal of a body part (i.e. amputation). What does Phantom Limb
The similarities between self-experienced and vicarious pain have led research to suggest that both experiences may be facilitated by shared neural representations. Indeed, neuroimaging evidence demonstrates an overlap in neural patterns during self- and other-pain. Such comparable brain activity may facilitate an empathic understanding of the current state of the individual in pain by stimulating relevant pain associations in the own sensory, affective and cognitive systems.
The observation of pain in others may enhance or reduce self-pain, yet the boundary conditions and factors that determine the direction of such effects are poorly understood. The current study set out to show that visual stimulus awareness plays a crucial role in determining whether vicarious pain primarily activates behavioural defence systems that enhance pain sensitivity and stimulate withdrawal or appetitive systems that attenuate pain sensitivity and stimulate approach.