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Calibration & PAT Testing

Calibration & PAT Testing

The finding could explain our attraction to dramatic works of fiction - even if they make us cry.

Experiments by an Oxford University team suggest tragic films and other dramatic works trigger a rush of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins.

This acts as a natural painkiller and helps us bond with the people around us, they report in the Royal Society journal Open Science.

The human fascination with story telling was forged in ancient times when we began to live in hunter gatherer communities, said Prof Robin Dunbar, who led the research.

Enjoying fiction is a hallmark of human society, but until now scientists have not investigated its evolutionary basis.
"Fiction is widely studied by humanities academics as it is an important feature of human society, common to all cultures," said Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University.
"Yet the reasons why fiction can be so engrossing and the functions for this have not been widely studied by psychologists or behavioural biologists.
"There are good social reasons: folklore enables us to pass on wisdom or ingrain community values, bringing us together. While that is important, it does not fully explain why we are willing to return again and again to be entertained."

Chemical clues

An Oxford team of scientists, psychologists and classicists decided to test whether drama triggers the release of endorphins - chemicals that act in the brain to dull pain.

They showed volunteers the film Stuart: A Life Backwards, the dramatised story of a homeless man with a troubled childhood.

A second group watched documentaries about neutral subjects.

Endorphins - artist impressionImage copyrightSCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Image captionEndorphins are sometimes described as a "natural painkiller"

The team tested changes in pain threshold before and after viewing the films as a measure for endorphin release using the wall-sit test.

This is where someone rests their back against the wall as if th

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