A recent study by the National Institute of Physiological Sciences shows that scratching an itch produces the same feeling of comfort one experiences when in love or given a praise. Both activities stimulate the same brain mechanism located at the striatum and midbrain regions, resulting in the same satisfying feeling afterwards.
Conducted by the National Institute for Physiological Sciences, including assistant professor of neurophysiology Hideki Mochizuki and Professor of neurophysiology Rysukue Kakigi, on 16 men and women, the study used electric stimuli to create an itchy feeling on the subjects’ wrists, which they were then instructed to scratch areas close and far from it. Scratching the area near the itch showed that the striatum and midbrain became more active as blood flow increased to the regions also called the “reward system” because it is more active on events related to success like falling in love, winning at gambling and achieving something at work. Results of the research will be published in the U.S. magazine Journal of Neurophysiology.
Researches, however, said that over stimulating the “reward system” is not advisable especially among people who suffer from atopic dermatitis who scratch excessively. Kakigi said that, “if the workings of the reward system are curbed, people will stop scratching their itchy areas so much and their symptoms will improve.”
[via Asahi Shimbun]