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People's physical response to pain is significantly dampened when they're immersed in virtual reality, and the effect could be enough to inhibit discomfort during painful medical procedures.
Researcher Hunter Hoffman and colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle have shown that virtual reality (VR) dramatically changes how the brain physically registers pain, not just how people subjected to pain perceive incoming signals.
"What this study shows is that virtual reality is not only changing the way people interpret the incoming pain, it is changing the actual activity in the brain," says Hoffman