Science Daily reports on a recent study that suggests using distraction to lessen pain -- and that the outcome is more than a mere psychological contortion. From the article:
The research group asked participants to complete either a hard or an easy memory task, both requiring them to remember letters, while they simultaneously applied a painful level of heat to their arms.
When study participants were more distracted by the harder of the two memory tasks, they did indeed perceive less pain. What's more, their less painful experience was reflected by lower activity in the spinal cord as observed by fMRI scans. (fMRI is often used to measure changes in brain activity, Sprenger explained, and recent advances have made it possible to extend this tool for use in the spinal cord.)
Read the entire article at Science Daily.