Quantcast
Connect with us

Scientists shed light on how brains turn pain up or down

Published

on

Pain perception is essential for survival, but how much something hurts can sometimes be amplified or suppressed: for example, soldiers who sustain an injury in battle often recall not feeling anything at the time.

A new study published in Cell Reports on Tuesday honed in on the brain circuitry responsible for upgrading or downgrading these pain signals, likening the mechanism to how a home thermostat controls room temperature.

ADVERTISEMENT

Yarimar Carrasquillo, the paper’s senior author and a scientist for the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), told AFP the region responsible was the central amygdala, which according to her work appeared to play a dual role.

Studying mice, Carrasquillo and her colleagues found that the activity in neurons that express protein kinase C-delta amplified pain, while neurons that express somatostatin inhibited the chain of activity in the nerves required to communicate pain.

The central amygdala isn’t completely responsible for pain itself: if it were removed entirely, then “the ‘ouch’ of things, or the protective pain, would remain intact,” said Carrasquillo.

“It seems to be sitting there waiting for something to happen,” for example responding to stress or anxiety that amplifies pain, or being forced to focus on a task that diverts your attention and reduces pain.

Experiencing pain can be a vital warning to seek help, for example in a person experiencing appendicitis or a heart attack.

ADVERTISEMENT

People who are born with insensitivity to pain, meanwhile, often do not realize the severity of injuries and are at greater risk of early death.

But not all pain is useful. According to a 2012 survey, about 11 percent of US adults have pain every day and more than 17 percent have severe levels of pain.

Often this leads to dependence on potent painkillers like opioids, or attempting to self-medicate through counterfeit or illicit drugs which are increasingly laced with deadly fentanyl.

ADVERTISEMENT

By better understanding the brain mechanisms responsible for pain modulation, researchers hope to eventually find better cures: potentially ones that target only those forms of pain that are “bad” and not useful.

“The healthy response is you get pain, it tells you something is wrong, it heals, and the pain goes away,” said Carrasquillo.

ADVERTISEMENT

“In chronic pain, that doesn’t happen, the system gets stuck. If we can identify what makes the system gets stuck, then we can reverse it.”


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Russia is delighted’: Maddow says the elephant in the room is ‘rearing up and stomping its feet’

Published

on

The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC broke down how all of President Donald Trump's decisions in the Ukraine scandal primarily benefited Russia.

"We are in the middle of this impeachment now and it is still unfolding and there is still more to learn and tomorrow is going to be — tomorrow should be a big deal," Maddow noted. "Even just the news tonight is a big deal."

"But even after one day of public hearings so far, the elephant in the room here feels like it’s rearing up and stomping its feet, because who benefits with all these things Trump has done?" Maddow asked. "With all of them. With all this stuff in the middle of the impeachment, but all the other stuff he’s doing simultaneously."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump begs Louisiana for a ‘big win’ after his last-minute rally in Kentucky backfired

Published

on

At his last-ditch rally in Louisiana to help the struggling gubernatorial candidacy of GOP businessman Eddie Rispone, President Donald Trump boasted — incorrectly — that his rally in Kentucky narrowed the gap for Gov. Matt Bevin, who lost the race, by 19 points. He then begged voters to give Rispone a "big win."

"We elected everybody," said Trump. "The governor got brought up, in a few short days, 19 points. I went, we made a speech, the whole ticket was there, everybody won big. Governor's a really good guy. But 19 points is a big thing, and he lost by just a few thousand votes. And the headlines next day, Trump took a loss — I lifted him up a lot. But Trump took a loss. So you gotta give me a big win, please, okay? Okay?"

Continue Reading
 

CNN

Republicans are treating voters like ‘children’ with their defense of Trump: Ex-presidential adviser

Published

on

On Thursday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," former presidential adviser David Gergen laid into Republican lawmakers for claiming that the impeachment probe is only based on "hearsay."

"The Republicans are treating us like idiots," said Gergen. "They just — they say you're only bringing forth hearsay. You don't have any firsthand information. We know there are three people who know exactly what happened. One is named [Rudy] Giuliani. One is chief of staff [Mick] Mulvaney and the third is [John] Bolton. And what's happened here? They all three have been called. The president said no, you must not talk. So the Republicans then come up and say, well, you only have hearsay."

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image