Quirks & Quarks

Mice feel each other's pain

Mice can transfer their feelings of pain to other mice through their sense of smell
Social mice (Monique Smith)

Anyone who has ever uttered the expression 'I feel your pain' may now do so with the knowledge that it is really possible, at least in mice.  A new study by Dr. Monique Smith, who did her research at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, found that sensitivity to pain can be transferred socially in mice.  In an experiment in which one group of mice were given a pain stimulus - such as alcohol withdrawal - a second group was shown to experience pain through social cues. In this case the cue was the sense of smell transferred from the group induced with pain, to the control group, those not given a pain stimulus.  The means by which the smell was transferred was the bedding used by the pain stimulus group.  It is hoped this study will provide a better understanding of how pain is transferred both socially and environmentally in humans.

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