A UCLA study shows that pain from a broken heart (shock, rejection) registered in the same part of the brain, called the anterior cingulate cortex, that also responds to physical pain.
"These findings show how deeply rooted our need is for social connection. Theres something about exclusion from others that is perceived as being as harmful to our survival as something that can physically hurt us, and our body automatically knows this," said the scientist.
It is a finding simultaneously remarkable and expected. Of course behaviors promoting social interactions are linked to survival. One can see this pain in the cries of an infant removed from his mothers arms. Much of our storytelling confirms the pain of such losses as adults. So it would have only been surprising if the findings were otherwise.
The truly remarkable thing is that we can now see how these inborn social programs work, albeit in a very limited sense. And we can discuss that painful losses, although just in our heads, have very real consequences. What this will mean for us is unclear, but I find it encouraging.