The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.Carl Jung
- 7th January
- 22nd July
Within psychology and neuroscience, some new and rigorous experimental paradigms for studying consciousness have helped it begin to overcome the stigma that has been attached to the topic for most of this century.David Chalmers, a philosopher specializing in philosophy of the mind and consciousness
- 22nd June
Can you tell me the difference between Psychophysiology, cognitive neuroscience, and neuropsychology? I know they are closely related, but are the interchangeable or quite distinct?
Asked by: neurosispuzzle
I personally don’t consider them interchangeable.
As far as I’m concerned, psychophysiology is a branch within psychology interested in the physiological processes that underlie psychological processes, although on a very basic (uncomplicated) level. To add to the confusion, people use interchangeable terms like psychobiology, biopsychology and physiological psychology as well. These are pretty much equivalent.
Cognitive neuroscience is a branch of psychophysiology that encompasses more concrete (i.e. scientific) knowledge from other disciplines (neuroscience) and is more specifically related to cognition, cognitive function and the role of brain function in these processes.
Neuropsychology on the other hand, is more thorough (IMO) because it focuses on the neural bases of the brain’s structure and function in relation to specific behaviors (which may or may not be related to pathology) and other psychological processes. Neuropsychology is also more closely tied to pathology and figuring out what’s wrong in the brain or nervous system and how to fix it…
- 26th May
According to MacDonald and Leary, social pain refers to the emotional reactions that accompany the perception that one is being excluded from a social relationship or being devalued by desired relationship partners or groups. Usually, when people talk about emotional/social pain (social pain is considered by some as a type of emotional pain), they think of the word pain as being an adequate metaphor for hurt feelings. But what if emotional pain caused by social exclusion, rejection and loss, for example, operates through a similar mechanism than physical pain?
MacDonald and Leary (2005) have an interesting hypothesis: reactions to rejection are mediated by aspects of the physical pain system. From an evolutionary perspective, inclusion in social groups is essential for survival (in social animals). Thus, the authors propose that threats to social connections are basically processed and perceived as threats to safety. While this group argues that the aversive state characterized by emotional/social pain is similar to that experienced when going through physical pain, others (Thornhill & Thornhill, 1989) have argued that emotional pain functions in an analogous way to physical pain. They propose that such pain (social) focuses attention on significant social events (that may be important for survival) to promote the correction and avoidance of such future events. Interesting theory, no?
However, evidence supporting the theory of overlap between social and physical pain is abundant. For example, social and physical pain overlap in attitudes and behaviors and these 2 types of pain correlate similarly with factors such as extraversion, social support, anxiety, aggression and depression. Below is some of the evidence of overlap that I found most convincing:
- Shared physiological mechanisms: Both types of pain have been shown to involve the anterior cingulate cortex, periaqueductal brain structures, and opioid/oxytocin systems.
- The experience of pain consists of 2 components: pain sensation and pain affect. Pain sensation conveys information about actual tissue damage and is processed by specialized mechanoreceptors. Pain affect consists of the unpleasant and negative feelings that typically accompany pain sensation as well as the emotions associated with future implications of those sensations. Emotional pain taps into the pain circuitry indirectly- via the pain affect component.
- Emotional pain, like physical pain, can serve to regulate and modify future behavior. Emotional and physical pain may both serve as negative reinforcement that functions to guide the animals to safety. Increases/decreases in pain mark avoidance/approach responses and behaviors, respectively in order to minimize pain.
- In the context of learning, specific early life experiences are involved in alleviating both types of pain. In babies, physical pain (hunger) or discomfort (soiled) is usually alleviated by emitting signals (crying, gestures) that elicit a caregiver response. The baby learns that physical (and social) contact may help minimize the pain so babies form attachment relationships. Basically, the baby learns that if it’s alone (socially isolated), it will be in pain (nobody will take care of it). In short, babies make this connection between social and physical pain very early on.
MacDonald and Leary. 2005. Why Does Social Exclusion Hurt? The Relationship Between Social and Physical Pain. The Psychological Bulletin. 131 (2): 202-223. DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.131.2.202
Related seminal work: Panksepp, J. (1998). Affective neuroscience: The foundations of human and animal emotions. London: Oxford University Press.
- 29th April