In study, people showed more muted responses to photos after taking pill best known as Tylenol
WebMD News from HealthDay
By Alan Mozes
WEDNESDAY, April 15, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Acetaminophen, the painkiller best known to Americans as Tylenol, may do more than simply dull pain -- it may also dull happy or sad emotions, new research finds.
The new, small study is the first to suggest that acetaminophen ratchets down a patient's emotional response to positive, upbeat stimulation. But the study builds on prior research into negative emotions, explained study lead author Geoffrey Durso.
"Recent research in psychology has found that acetaminophen blunts the extent to which individuals experience negative events beyond physical pain," said Durso, a doctoral student in social psychology at Ohio State University in Columbus. "Our study was inspired by asking why this might be the case."
The new study, published online recently in Psychological Science, involved two experiments, each enlisting about 80 college students.
In the first experiment, half of the participants took a 1000-milligram dose of acetaminophen, while the other half took a dummy pill. An hour later, all were shown 40 photographs designed to provoke emotional responses that ranged from positive (pictures of children playing with cute pets) to negative (photos of sickly, underfed children).
Participants ranked each photo's emotional content, and then indicated how each image made them feel.
The result: those who took acetaminophen offered more muted responses to both the negative and the positive images.
A follow-up study was structured exactly the same way, but also asked participants to indicate how much of the color blue they saw in each image. The goal was to see whether acetaminophen only affected emotions, or if it also affected the ability to cast accurate judgments overall.
The results found that acetaminophen had no impact on color assessment -- suggesting that only emotions were affected.
Overall, Durso said the study found a "reliable but relatively subtle" association between acetaminophen and a blunting of emotions. Just how the drug might do this remains elusive, however.
"Acetaminophen exerts a multitude of effects on the individual," Durso said. He believes the medicine could alter brain activity in various ways, such as tweaking activity of the neurochemical serotonin, reducing inflammatory signaling, or decreasing activation in areas responsible for emotion.
source : Could Taking Acetaminophen Dull Your Happiness?