Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gender Differences In Brain Response To Pain

Date:
November 5, 2003
Source:
University Of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
A new UCLA study shows that different parts of the brain are stimulated in reaction to pain depending on gender. The research, which represents the largest gender-comparison study of its kind, focused on people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), one of the nation's most common chronic medical conditions.

A new UCLA study shows that different parts of the brain are stimulated in reaction to pain depending on gender. The research, which represents the largest gender-comparison study of its kind, focused on people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), one of the nation's most common chronic medical conditions. The findings may help develop and target better treatments for IBS and other illnesses.

Related Articles


"We are finding more scientific differences between men and women as we improve research methods and broaden study populations," said study co-author Dr. Emeran Mayer, UCLA professor of bio-behavioral sciences, and medicine, physiology and psychiatry. "This growing base of research will help us develop more effective treatments based on a new criteria: gender."

Dr. Mayer is the director of the new Center for Neurovisceral Sciences & Women's Health (CNS) at UCLA, which conducted the study.

Published in the June 2003 issue of the journal Gastroenterology, the study examined 26 women and 24 men with IBS. UCLA researchers took positron emission tomography (PET) brain scans of patients during mild pain stimuli.

Although researchers found some overlapping areas of brain activation in men and women, several areas of male and female brains reacted differently when given the same pain stimulus. The female brain showed greater activity in limbic regions, which are emotion-based centers. In men, the cognitive regions, or analytical centers, showed greater activity.

"The reason for the two different brain responses may date back to primitive days, when the roles of men and women were more distinct," said study co-author Dr. Bruce Naliboff, UCLA clinical professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, and co-director of CNS.

According to Naliboff, these gender differences in brain responses to pain may have evolved as part of a more general difference in stress responses between men and women. Men's cognitive areas may be more highly triggered because of the early male role in defending the homestead, where in response to stress and pain, the brain launched a calculated fight-or-flight reaction.

The female limbic regions may be more responsive under threat because of their importance in triggering a nurturing and protecting response for the young, leading to a more emotion-based response in facing pain and stress.

Naliboff noted that both responses have advantages and neither is better. In fact, under conditions of external threat, the different responses may lead to complementary behaviors between men and women.

In addition, researchers found that the anticipation of pain generated the same brain responses from study volunteers as the actual pain stimulus. "The brain is a powerful force in dictating how the body responds to pain and stress," said study co-author Dr. Lin Chang, UCLA associate professor of medicine and co-director of CNS.

The next step, according to Mayer, is to look at how the results of the study may impact treatment for IBS and other disorders. Mayer adds that one current drug for IBS, Lotronex, affects the limbic system and has worked more successfully in women than men.

UCLA's Center for Neurovisceral Sciences and Women's Health studies how the brain, stress and emotions impact the development of disorders that affect mainly women.

Irritable bowel syndrome affects 15 to 20 percent of Americans and causes discomfort in the abdomen, along with diarrhea and/or constipation.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Institute of Nursing Research, both part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Los Angeles. "Gender Differences In Brain Response To Pain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031105064626.htm>.
University Of California - Los Angeles. (2003, November 5). Gender Differences In Brain Response To Pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031105064626.htm
University Of California - Los Angeles. "Gender Differences In Brain Response To Pain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031105064626.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins