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How the #$%! swearing relieves pain? [Random Knowledge #28]
posted March 19 2013 21:01.01 by Giorgos Lazaridis

There was an experiment conducted in 2009 which involved 67 volunteers college students who had to keep their hands immersed in cold water. During the exercise, they could repeat an expletive of their choice or chant a neutral word. When swearing, they reported less pain and on average endured about 40 seconds longer.

How swearing relieves pain is not quite known. Researchers speculate that the brain circuitry linked to emotion is involved. Early studies have shown that normal language involves the outer layers of the left hemisphere of the brain, while expletives are hidden deep inside the right half, like the amygdala. Amygdala can trigger the fight-or-flight response in which our heart rate climbs and we become less sensitive to pain. As a matter of fact, the students who swore had increased heart beat rates, indication that the amygdala was stimulated!

But there is a catch! The more one swears, the less emotionally potent the words become, and without emotion all that's left are bad words alone...

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