Hot Coffee Hurts Like a Broken Heart

March 30, 2011

It’s weird coffee news day. No, this is not about a new country western hit. Monday an article by Elizabeth Lopatto reported on a brain study that compared rejection to the pain from spilling hot coffee on your arm. The researchers surmise that the same part of the brain responded to the heat pain and to the pain of rejection. The study involved mapping the sensory part of the brain that responded to the stimulus of a remembered rejection followed by a control stimulus and then the application of intense heat to the arms. When the same part of the brain was stimulated by both the first and the third events, the scientists concluded that the two types of pain have something in common. Though we can’t see this intellectually, as being rejected by a lover and spilling hot coffee seemingly are quite different events causing different reactions, the sensory part of the brain doesn’t lie and isn’t swayed by other factors. It’s pretty objective. The part if the brain that was stimulated is one location that senses light touch, pain, pressure and temperature. So somehow there is a relationship between the pain of hot temperature and the pain of rejection. So, you might ask, what’s this have to do with coffee? Good question. It doesn’t have much to do with coffee, but this is not the only time in the last week the hot coffee metaphor was used to describe something. There also was a news story about a new star discovered, a cold star having the same temperature as hot coffee. Compared to the sun, hot coffee seems pretty cold, after all. It’s all pretty relative. Why don’t the writers use hot tea or hot water as the metaphor? Maybe it’s because hot coffee is such a universally experienced item, everyone can relate to how hot it is. When you read the hot coffee description, how many of you saw an image of black hot liquid in a cup with steam circling up from it? We can all recall spilling it on ourselves and squealing in pain from the shock of it. So now here’s something else to contemplate as your pour your next steaming cup. Why is it that to the brain, the pain of rejection is as intense as the pain of the hot coffee splash? Below are some coffee’s you won’t reject, because they come with a guaranteed to please promise.



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