No âmbito do projeto de investigação 75/16 - The painful awareness of death: Influence of thoughts of death on behavioural and cerebral activity associated with painful nociceptive stimuli, apoiado pela Fundação BIAL e liderado por Elia Valentini, foi publicado o artigo Reminders of Mortality: Investigating the Effects of Different Mortality Saliences on Somatosensory Neural Activity na revista científica Brain Sciences. O estudo pretendia avaliar se pensar na morte de um parceiro romântico ou na própria morte se traduziria numa alteração na perceção e nas respostas cerebrais a estímulos elétricos nocivos. A conclusão deste estudo revela que pensar na morte do parceiro romântico tem maior impacto na perceção da dor, do que pensar na própria morte.
The Terror Management Theory (TMT) offered a great deal of generative hypotheses that have been tested in a plethora of studies. However, there is a still substantive lack of clarity about the interpretation of TMT-driven effects and their underlying neurological mechanisms. Here, we aimed to expand upon previous research by introducing two novel methodological manipulations aimed to enhance the effects of mortality salience (MS). We presented participants with the idea of the participants’ romantic partner’s death as well as increased the perceived threat of somatosensory stimuli. Linear mixed modelling disclosed the greater effects of MS directed at one’s romantic partner on pain perception (as opposed to the participant’s own mortality). The theta event-related oscillatory activity measured at the vertex of the scalp was significantly lower compared to the control condition. We suggest that MS aimed at one’s romantic partner can result in increased effects on perceptual experience; however, the underlying neural activities are not reflected by a classical measure of cortical arousal.