How do the normal pains of everyday life, such as headaches and backaches, influence our ability to think? Recent studies suggest that healthy individuals in pain also show deficits in working memory, or the cognitive process of holding and manipulating information over short periods of time. Prior research suggests that pain-related impairments in working memory depend on an individual’s level of emotional distress. Yet the specific brain and psychological factors underlying the role of emotional distress in contributing to this relationship are not well understood.
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