Does an injection hurt less if we don?t look while we’re getting it? New research from the U.K. says it does.

Marisa Taylor-Clarke poked volunteers’ forearms with a two-pronged device and asked them if they could tell whether they had been touched in one place or two. They were not able to see the device touching their skin. The first time, they could look at their arms immediately before and afterwards. Other times, they looked at another object or were in total darkness.

Taylor-Clarke found that the part of the brain that is activated by touch was much more active when the volunteers looked at their arms. Their ability to sense touch was also greater when they could see what was going on. “This is the first time that looking at a part of your body has been shown to improve your sense of touch,” she says.

The realization that sight and touch work together could be used to help patients who are trying to regain the use of their bodies after strokes. As for the rest of us, we now know: It DOES hurt less when we don?t look.

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