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Some people would rather endure physical pain than having to think too hard, study reveals

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A young man thinking.
A young man thinking.
Tara Moore

Mentally challenging tasks may offer several health benefits, such as helping to maintain a healthy brain, but if given the choice, some people prefer holding a scalding hot object against their skin.

This according to the findings of a new study published in eLife, where participants could choose between subjecting themselves to uncomfortable thermal pain or completing a memory task.

"Cognitive effort is described as aversive, and people will generally avoid it when possible," wrote the authors. Study lead author Todd Vogel, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada also told Live Science: "These cognitive activities … they suck. They're not fun. But they're harmless. So your first thought would be, why would you ever choose pain?"

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