Musicians, poets and novelists have all pronounced the pleasure of holding hands. Dr. Richard Davidson has just proven that emotional delight is not the only benefit derived from this tender activity. The study, soon to be published in the journal Psychological Science, reports that women under extreme stress experience immediate relief when their hands are held.

Sixteen women were placed in MRI’s and given random mild electric shocks. When their husbands reached in and held their hand, activity the parts of the brain registering stress, anticipation of pain and anxiety decreased dramatically. They also reported less pain. Having their hand held by a stranger had the same effect, but to a lesser extent.

This study gives some insight into why those who are in a committed, affectionate relationship live longer, have lower blood pressure and are, in general, healthier. Viva l’amour!

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