Why Pain Hurts More For Some People

Why Pain Hurts More For Some People

JAN. 21, 2014, 7:37 PM 1,753 1

Some people feel pain more intensely than others, and new research suggests differences in pain sensitivity may be related to differences in brain structure. In a new study, the researchers asked 116 healthy people to rate the intensity of their pain when a small spot of skin on their arm or leg was heated to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. A few days after pain-sensitivity testing, participants had their brains scanned in an MRI machine.The results showed a link between an individual’s sensitivity to pain, and the thickness of their brain’s cortex, in regions that have previously been linked to attention control and introspection. The thinner the cortex in these areas, the more sensitive people were to painful stimuli. [5 Surprising Facts about Pain]

“Subjects with higher pain intensity ratings had less gray matter in brain regions that contribute to internal thoughts and control of attention,” said study researcher Nichole Emerson, a graduate student at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Understanding how the experience of pain is represented in the brain is essential for developing treatments for people suffering chronic pain, and scientists are looking for why people react differently to pain.

A previous study recently found that structural differences in the brain predicted whether people healed after an injury or developed chronic pain. On the other hand, researchers have found that the pain itself can change the brain structure, albeit temporarily.

Brain areas that the new study identified as linked to pain sensitivity are part of a network of regions that become activated when people are resting or daydreaming, or in other words, are in “default mode.”

That may be why people with less gray matter volume in these areas are more sensitive to pain, and vice versa, the researchers said.

“Default-mode activity may compete with brain activity that generates an experience of pain,” said study researcher Robert Coghill, a professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist. In other words, people who spend more time in “default mode” may be less sensitive to pain.

Other areas the researchers found to be related to pain included the posterior parietal cortex, thought to play an important role in controlling attention. People who can best keep their attention focused may also be best at keeping pain under control, Coghill said.

The new findings, published Dec. 11 in the journal Pain, could potentially help predict people’s pain sensitivity and provide a foundation for the development of better tools to treat and prevent pain, Coghill said.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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