Friday, November 16, 2007

Brain waves reveal intensity of pain

From Nature News
Recordings from electrodes in the human brain may offer the first objective way to measure the intensity of pain. Researchers say that they have found a neural signal that correlates with the amount of pain that an individual feels. The signal could be used to refine pain-relief techniques that involve stimulating the brain with electricity, they say.

Single cells have previously been identified in the human brain that are active in pain, but their response is binary, signalling either pain or no pain. Now, Morten Kringelbach of the psychiatry department at the University of Oxford, UK, and his colleagues have identified low-frequency brain waves that emanate from two regions buried deep within the brain when a patient is in pain. The more pain that is experienced, the longer the waves last. …

“It is an objective measure that correlates with a subjective measure,” says Kringelbach, who presented the findings at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, California, last week.

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