THE FINDING: Daily doses of acetaminophen alleviate hurt feelings and reduce neural activity related to the pain of social rejection.
The research: The University of Kentucky's C. Nathan DeWall asked 62 undergraduates to take 1,ooo milligrams of acetaminophen or a placebo for three weeks. Each evening they recorded how much social pain they'd felt that day. The hurt feelings of those who took acetaminophen decreased significantly over time; people who took the placebo showed no change. In a related study, functional MRIs showed that people who had taken acetaminophen also had less activity in the brain regions that respond to emotional pain. THE CHALLENGE: Aren't mental and physical pain entirely different? Can over-the-counter analgesics improve your emotional state if, say, you get fired?