Study participants were asked to complete a difficult or easy letter memory task while having a painful level of heat applied to their arms, and those distracted by the more difficult task said they felt less pain. This was reinforced by lower activity in the spinal cord seen in the functional magnetic resonance imaging scans.
"Our findings strengthen the role of cognitive-behavioral therapeutic approaches in the treatment of pain diseases, as it could be extrapolated that these approaches might also have the potential to alter the underlying neurobiological mechanisms as early as in the spinal cord," researchers wrote.
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