There may be a good reason why people instantly make a grab for an injured finger or toe. Touching oneself provides immediate pain relief, a study has found.
The effect is due to change in the way the body is represented in the brain, researchers at UCL report in the journal Current Biology.
Scientists used a technique called thermal grill illusion (TGI) to make volunteers feel their middle finger was painfully hot.
Participants had TGI induced in both hands, and then immediately touched the three fingers of one hand with the same fingers of the other, reducing the sensation of heat by 64 per cent.