Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Where's Your Pain? New Insights Into How The Brain Processes Pain Location

Date:
March 29, 2007
Source:
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Summary:
Is that pain in your chest a heart attack or indigestion? New research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine reveals that more areas of the brain than previously thought are involved in determining the location of pain.

Is that pain in your chest a heart attack or indigestion? New research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine reveals that more areas of the brain than previously thought are involved in determining the location of pain.

Spatial aspects of pain are a common problem in diagnosis, said Robert Coghill, Ph.D., senior researcher on the study and a neuroscientist at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Patients cannot always distinguish pain from indigestion and pain from a heart attack, for example. Pain from a nerve injury is often felt at sites other than at the injury. And, in some cases, an injury on one side of the body results in pain on both sides.

"The scientific understanding of spatial aspects of pain is so limited that patients with widespread pain may get sent to a psychiatrist rather than a pain clinic," said Coghill.

"This study expands our notion of where in the brain the 'where' component of pain is processed -- it's not as simple as we thought," said Coghill. "Brain mechanisms that process the location of pain now appear to be highly similar to those that process the location for hearing and vision."

The new finding published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience -- that multiple regions of the brain are involved in determining pain location -- was achieved with functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a technique that shows brain activity while a task is being performed.

The study involved 12 healthy volunteers from ages 22 to 39. Two thermal stimulators were placed between 1.5 and 6 inches apart on each participant's lower leg. While participants were undergoing a functional MRI, one of the stimulators was activated at a temperature between 95 and 120 degrees. Then, after a 30-second rest period, one of stimulators was activated. Participants were told to push a button to indicate whether the second activation was in the same or a different location from the first.

According to conventional wisdom, a few brain regions, including the primary somatosensory cortex, are involved in determining pain location, said lead author Yoshitetsu Oshiro, M.D., Ph.D. But the MRI testing showed that other areas, known as the medial pain system and thought to be involved in the emotional aspects of pain, were also used.

"This was very surprising," said Oshiro. "Pain isn't well understood and better treatments are needed. This shift in direction will be important to move research and treatments in the right direction."

Coghill agreed. "A whole network of brain areas were lighting up while subjects were evaluating the spatial location of the stimulus," he said. "We're showing something very new and different: areas thought historically to be involved in processing the emotional aspects of pain were involved in determining pain location. It gives us a whole new conceptual framework for thinking about spatial aspects of pain."

He said the study suggests that a lot of our sensory experiences are built by comparing incoming information with previously experienced information. "That convergence of information gives us a full sensory experience of the information coming in from our nervous systems."

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Other researchers were Alexandre Quevedo, D.D.S., John McHaffie, Ph.D., Robert Kraft, Ph.D., all from Wake Forest.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Where's Your Pain? New Insights Into How The Brain Processes Pain Location." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070328073315.htm>.
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. (2007, March 29). Where's Your Pain? New Insights Into How The Brain Processes Pain Location. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070328073315.htm
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Where's Your Pain? New Insights Into How The Brain Processes Pain Location." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070328073315.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
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:
from the past week

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