Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When infants gain the capacity for pain

Date:
September 8, 2011
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
A new study has for the first time revealed the time in development when infants appear able to tell the difference between pain and basic touch. The researchers, who report their findings online in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on September 8, say that the results, based on recordings of brain activity in preterm infants, may have implications for clinical care.

A new study has for the first time revealed the time in development when infants appear able to tell the difference between pain and basic touch. The researchers, who report their findings online in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on Sept. 8, say that the results, based on recordings of brain activity in preterm infants, may have implications for clinical care.

The evidence suggests that developing brain networks become mature enough to identify pain as distinct from touch fairly late in development.

"Babies can distinguish painful stimuli as different from general touch from around 35 to 37 weeks gestation -- just before an infant would normally be born," said Lorenzo Fabrizi of University College London.

Infants can't actually tell you whether something hurts or not, so the researchers relied on recordings of brain activity by electroencephalography (EEG).

According to the researchers, recent studies have emphasized the importance of bursts of neuronal activity, both spontaneous and evoked, during the formation of functional brain circuitry. That bursting pattern of activity shifts in development to adult-like responses that are more specific to particular sensory inputs.

EEG recordings of infants between the ages of 28 to 45 weeks gestation show that the brain begins to produce distinct responses to a simple touch versus a clinically essential heel lance considered as painful at about 35 to 37 weeks gestation. (Babies' due dates are based on 40 weeks of pregnancy, and babies are generally considered full term at 37 weeks).

The results may have implications for the treatment, care, and development of premature newborns, Fabrizi said, noting that these children can often grow up to be either more or less sensitive to pain than usual.

"Repeated noxious stimulation of the kind used in this study is a feature of neonatal intensive care," the researchers wrote. "Our finding that noxious heel lance increases neuronal bursting activity in the brain from the earliest age raises the possibility that excess noxious input may disrupt the normal formation of cortical circuits, and that this is a mechanism underlying the long-term neurodevelopmental consequences and altered pain behavior in ex preterm children."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lorenzo Fabrizi, Rebeccah Slater, Alan Worley, Judith Meek, Stewart Boyd, Sofia Olhede, Maria Fitzgerald. A Shift in Sensory Processing that Enables the Developing Human Brain to Discriminate Touch from Pain. Current Biology, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.08.010

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "When infants gain the capacity for pain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110908124138.htm>.
Cell Press. (2011, September 8). When infants gain the capacity for pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110908124138.htm
Cell Press. "When infants gain the capacity for pain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110908124138.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
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:

More Coverage


Babies Distinguish Pain from Touch at 35-37 Weeks, Research Finds

Sep. 8, 2011 Babies can distinguish painful stimuli as different from general touch from around 35-37 weeks gestation -- just before an infant would normally be born -- according to new ... read more
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