Washington: A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of hurt feelings from a broken heart, a new study has claimed.

The rather prosaic cure emerged in a study by neuroscientists, which found that emotional pain is processed in the same area of the brain as physical pain.

They also discovered that hurt feelings, such as being dumped by a partner, can respond to painkillers.

In a three-week trial at the University of California, 62 people were told to take either Tylenol - the American name for paracetamol - or a placebo and then record how they felt every night.

The study found those who took 1,000mg of the painkiller, or around two tablets, showed a "significant reduction in hurt feelings" compared to those taking the placebo.

Another test involved participants taking part in a computer game which was devised to make some of them feel rejected.

At the same time they had brain scans, which showed the pain of being socially rejected was processed in the same area of the brain as physical pain - in the anterior cingulate cortex.

The scientists saw a correlation in the brain activity of people who had experienced social rejection and physical pain.

The test was then repeated, with some of the group on painkillers. This group had less pain-related activity in their brains than those on a placebo.

"Rejection is such a powerful experience for people. If you ask people to think back about some of their earliest negative experiences, they will often be about rejection, about being picked last for a team or left out of some social group," a daily quoted Naomi Eisenberger, an assistant professor of social psychology as saying.

"It follows in a logical way from the argument that the physical and social pain systems overlap, but it's still kind of hard to imagine. We take the drug for physical pain; it's not supposed to work on social pain," Eisenberger added.

(Agencies)