Violent video games can ease pain

SEOUL - People may develop a higher tolerance towards pain by playing video games that involve players shooting and killing enemies, British scientists claimed last Friday.

According to research by Keele University, playing "first-person shooter" games enabled players to endure pain for 65 per cent longer than those who played a non-violent golf game.

The 40 participants of the study were asked to play both the violent and non-violent games for 10 minutes and then to place a hand in ice-cold water to test pain reaction.

Researchers found that the participants' pain tolerance and heart rate increased after playing violent games.

Researchers said the increase in pain tolerance was brought on by the body's own mechanism of "fight or flight" response, which was prompted by the participants playing a violent game. Such a response can make the brain less sensitive to pain by activating descending pain-inhibitory pathways.

The study followed a previous one by the same team of researchers on the effects of swearing on pain tolerance. It indicated that swearing sparks an emotional reaction, most likely aggression, to ease pain.

The latest study aimed to test the assumption that aggression results in higher pain tolerance.

"The results confirm our predictions that playing the video game increased both feelings of aggression and pain tolerance," said Dr Richard Stephens, a senior lecturer in psychology at Keele University who led the study. He added that pain researchers are exploring whether virtual reality can be applied to help people cope with pain.

The study was published in the journal Psychological Reports, which specialises in empirical, theoretical, mainstream and alternative views on issues in psychology.

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