In this 2008 article, "brain piercing" is described, with a photo:

They drill small holes in your scull, then pass a metal (gold or silver) ring through them. The trick is that the ring presses the brain tissue and invokes euphoria. The whole procedure is carried under an anesthesia and after the ring is passed, it does not cause any pain.

Is it real?

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    Well, first ignoring that the "article" has atrocious spelling, it is quite clear that the metal pieces shown in that picture are not straight. Instead, they are curved and appear to pass only under the skin and in no way through the skull. I think we can all agree this is just some idiot spouting off on the web trying to cause some sort of sensation...
    – JasonR
    Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 12:48
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    I have to admit, I was doubting that this really counted as "notable", until I read the comments on that page. People believed it. Sigh.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 12:59
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    @Oddthinking thanks for moving that, I meant it to be a comment... Low on coffee. If you look at this eBay auction, you can see that the type of jewelry is the same: ebay.com/itm/…
    – JasonR
    Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 13:26
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    I'm with @Brightblades. It isn't Photoshop, but it isn't what the description says either. It is just a curved bit of metal going under the skin but above the bone (done twice). See other surface piercings, such as nape piercing for similar examples, except with a [curved barbell](en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbell_(piercing)#Curved_barbell).
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 14:22
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    @Konrad, familiar with the concept. I'm more of a fan of Pratchett's retrophrenology, where you are hit on the head with hammers until you exhibit a head-shape corresponding to the personality you want. About as applicable as trepanation is here... :-)
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 15:52

1 Answer 1


The claims about euphoria are certainly nonsense.

First off, for a neuron to do anything, it needs to be stimulated appropriately. None of the neurons that are sensitive to touch and pressure are in the brain:

Light touch is detected by receptors in the skin. These are often found close to a hair follicle...

Pacinian corpuscles are pressure receptors. They are located in the skin and also in various internal organs. (...) Pacinian corpuscles are also located in joints and tendons and in tissue that lines organs and blood vessels.

This means that pressing on the brain will not produce a reaction that is typically associated with activity in the pressed area.

Second, the brain areas under the "brain piercings" are nowhere near a center that could lead to pleasure. Emotional regulation is located in the limbic system (the labeled bits of the picture below, mostly blue and purple):

(the colored areas in the picture are the limbic system):

The closest thing to euphoria (a putative 'reward' center) has been attributed to the septum (labeled in the picture above as '(pleasure, reproduction)'. Also, note that stimulation in this study about the septum as a reward center, was done by way of applying electric current to the brain:

It is clear that electrical stimulation in certain parts of the brain, particularly the septal area, produces acquisition and extinction curves which compare favorably with those produced by a conventional primary reward. With other electrode placements, the stimulation appears to be neutral or punishing.

The punctured locations are not deep enough and they are not even located above the septum.

The text you linked says:

The foramens will be done on your nucha - there is an especially sensitive range of a brain.

Being an aspiring neuroscientist, I found it disturbing that I'd never heard of this especially sensitive 'range' of the brain. But it turns out the nucha is actually the neck!

Nucha , nucha meaning , definition of nucha:

The back or upper part of the neck; the nape . The nape of the neck . n . [ML . nucha , neck] The upper surface of the neck connecting the head and thorax;

Finally, anecdotal data from the neuroscience institute where I spend my days, says that the closer the species to ours, the more easily the brain inflames when the skull is left open. Monkeys are very sensitive, rats can heal well. I would guess that a human would quickly get terribly sick from a brain piercing.

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    Thanks for really nice answer! Personally, I thing that any kind of open skull, especially having some metal object will be source of infection and inflammation. Also, very good point, that there are no pressure sensitive neurons in the brain, I've just released, that if there would be -- brain tumors would be felt by person, not just cause different neurological symptoms.
    – 4erkas
    Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 20:42
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    The idea that trapanning will produce a "permanent high" is an old and well-established one. Not that the hole size described here would have any real relation to what a trephine does, but it's a good marketing strategy. Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 10:56

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