Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain structure shows who is most sensitive to pain

Date:
January 14, 2014
Source:
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Summary:
Everybody feels pain differently, and brain structure may hold the clue to these differences. In a study published, scientistshave shown that the brain’s structure is related to how intensely people perceive pain.

In a study published in the current online issue of the journal Pain, scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have shown that the brain's structure is related to how intensely people perceive pain.

"We found that individual differences in the amount of grey matter in certain regions of the brain are related to how sensitive different people are to pain," said Robert Coghill, Ph.D., professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist and senior author of the study.

The brain is made up of both grey and white matter. Grey matter processes information much like a computer, while white matter coordinates communications between the different regions of the brain.

The research team investigated the relationship between the amount of grey matter and individual differences in pain sensitivity in 116 healthy volunteers. Pain sensitivity was tested by having participants rate the intensity of their pain when a small spot of skin on their arm or leg was heated to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. After pain sensitivity testing, participants underwent MRI scans that recorded images of their brain structure.

"Subjects with higher pain intensity ratings had less grey matter in brain regions that contribute to internal thoughts and control of attention," said Nichole Emerson, B.S., a graduate student in the Coghill lab and first author of the study. These regions include the posterior cingulate cortex, precuneus and areas of the posterior parietal cortex, she said.

The posterior cingulate cortex and precuneus are part of the default mode network, a set of connected brain regions that are associated with the free-flowing thoughts that people have while they are daydreaming.

"Default mode activity may compete with brain activity that generates an experience of pain, such that individuals with high default mode activity would have reduced sensitivity to pain," Coghill said.

Areas of the posterior parietal cortex play an important role in attention. Individuals who can best keep their attention focused may also be best at keeping pain under control, Coghill said.

"These kinds of structural differences can provide a foundation for the development of better tools for the diagnosis, classification, treatment and even prevention of pain," he said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Nichole M. Emerson, Fadel Zeidan, Oleg V. Lobanov, Morten S. Hadsel, Katherine T. Martucci, Alexandre S. Quevedo, Christopher J. Starr, Hadas Nahman-Averbuch, Irit Weissman-Fogel, Yelena Granovsky, David Yarnitsky, Robert C. Coghill. Pain Sensitivity is Inversely Related to Regional Grey Matter Density in the Brain. PAIN®, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.pain.2013.12.004

Cite This Page:

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "Brain structure shows who is most sensitive to pain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114114136.htm>.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. (2014, January 14). Brain structure shows who is most sensitive to pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114114136.htm
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "Brain structure shows who is most sensitive to pain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114114136.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) — Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) — Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) — Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) — Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
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