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October 18, 2013 4:19 pm

Research Shows Physical Reaction in Jews to Anti-Semites in Pain

avatar by Zach Pontz

Scan of the human brain. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A study published in academic journal Frontiers in Psychology said that Jewish men endure a physical reaction to images of anti-Semites in pain, The Daily Mail reported.

The study examined activity in the ‘pain matrix’ of the brain – a network that includes the insula cortex, the anterior cingulate, and the somatosensory cortices – regions known to activate when an individual watches another person suffer.

A group of Jewish males were observed while first watching videos of hateful, anti-Semitic individuals in pain, and then videos of tolerant, non-hateful individuals in pain.

The study revealed that the pain matrix may be more involved then previously thought in processing pain in general and is not tied to processing feelings of empathy, as the scans showed pain matrices were more highly activated in Jewish males when watching the anti-Semites suffer.

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According to the researchers, the reaction might indicate that the human brain is programmed to focus to monitoring enemies more closely.

Lisa Aziz-Zadeh of the Brain and Creativity Institute of the University of Southern California said, “When you watch an action movie and the bad guy appears to be defeated, the moment of his demise draws our focus intensely.”

“We watch him closely to see whether he’s really down for the count, because it’s critical for predicting his potential for retribution in the future,” she told The Daily Mail.

Researcher Glenn Fox, who was also involved in the study, added: ‘The results further reveal the brain’s flexibility in processing complex social situations.”

“The brain uses the complete context of the situation to mount an appropriate response,” he said. “In this case, the brain’s response is likely tied to the relative increase in the need to attend to and understand the pain of the hateful person.”

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