"Rejection quite literally hurts — the experience and the memory of getting dumped by a loved one trigger brain regions linked with physical sensations of pain, scientists find.
Smith and his colleagues put out fliers in Manhattan and online ads on Facebook and Craigslist looking for people who had been through an unwanted breakup of a romance in the last six months. As the brains of the 40 volunteers were scanned through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), half the time they looked at photos of their ex, and half the time they looked at photos of a friend. During both situations, participants were asked to focus on experiences they shared with the people in the pictures.
For comparison to their response to physical discomfort, the participants also had probes placed on their forearms that could get painfully hot.
The scientists found that parts of the brain linked with physical pain also lit up when individuals were remembering bad breakups.
"Rejection literally hurts," Smith said."