Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

John Neil Bohannon III


Individuals tend to describe physical pain and social pain with the same terminology (DeWall & Baumeister, 2006; Eisenberger, et aI., 2003; Way, et aI., 2009). There is a neurobiological overlap between the systems that control physical pain and social pain. During both physical pain and social rejection, the same brain areas (insulae in the central cortical fissure) are active. DeWall (2011) found that individuals who received a dose of acetaminophen had less activity in the bilateral anterior insula and bilateral posterior insula during a social rejection stimulation. Because social rejection also increases memory (Pajkos, et aI., 20 I 1), subjects given acetaminophen during social rejection may not benefit from this memory enhancement effect. In study one, students (n=55) participated in a two-week study for extra credit. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions, either Tylenol or no Tylenol, and a rejection of either a polite or harsh nature. Participants viewed introduction and rejection videos, which were followed by a memory task, and, one week later, the same memory task. They also completed a protocol about a prior break-up they had endured. Overall, Tylenol had no effect on memory for a prior break-up suggesting that Tylenol's effects on memory is only seen at encoding. In study two, students (n=77) completed the same experiment with the exclusion of the break-up protocol. Tylenol enhanced detail memory in the female participants only. These studies indicate that Tylenol does have an impact on memory during social rejection.