Acupuncture alters the way the brain perceives and processes pain, a finding that suggests the traditional Chinese treatment can effectively relieve pain, according to a new study. German researchers used MRI scans to measure brain activity in 18 people who received painful electrical currents to their left ankles. The researchers then placed acupuncture needles on the participants' right sides and again inflicted pain. Without acupuncture, there was major activation of pain-processing areas of the brain. Activation was significantly reduced when the volunteers received acupuncture. The researchers also found that acupuncture reduced activation in areas of the brain that control expectations of pain.
Mom's the word
A study involving men and their mothers suggests a new function for the "love hormone" oxytocin in human behavior. Men who inhaled a synthetic form of oxytocin, a naturally occurring chemical, recalled intensified fond memories of their mothers if, indeed, Mom was all that caring. But if men initially reported less close relationships with Mom, oxytocin seemed to encourage them to dwell on the negative.