Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sense of pain learned by touching

26.05.2004


The fact that a newborn baby can experience pain has previously been taken as evidence that pain reflexes are inborn, not learned. This is because the baby in the womb has been protected from everything that could cause pain and should therefore not have been able to learn what pain is. But according to a team of scientists at Lund University, Sweden, headed by Professor Jens Schouenborg, the tactile feeling of fetal movements in the womb is sufficient to initiate a process of learning in the undeveloped pain system.



"The system for tactile feeling needs only tiny stimuli: the skin reacts to extremely light pressure and contact. We have found that the tactile feeling is used to training the pain system, which normally reacts to stronger stimuli," says Alexandra Waldenstrom.

She recently defended her thesis, in which she has studied reactions to pain in newborn rats, using ultra-short pain-inducing pulses of heat. The experiments showed that the young rats started to learn how to withdraw their tails from noxious stimuli at the age of ten days. In terms of maturity this period in a young rat corresponds to the fetal stage in humans, roughly between weeks 10 and 30.


The fact that this learning is associated with touching was shown in further experiments in which the tails of the young rats were anesthetized so that they could sense touch but not feel pain. Here too, they learned to withdraw their tails. Other experiments indicated that the tactile feeling arising from the spontaneous twitching in rat pups during sleep led to learning of the pain-system.

This fine-tuning of the pain system proved to take place during a certain period during development. This may mean that learning about pain is limited to a certain period in human fetal development, and that disturbances during this period can lead to malfunction of the protective reflexes that make us instantly remove our hand from a hot burner on a stove, for example. Perhaps premature infants should therefore not be protected from touching, but rather should be exposed to touching similar to the tactile feeling they would have experienced in the womb.

Alexandra Waldenstroms thesis enhances our knowledge of the mechanisms behind the training of the pain system and the maturation of the spine. In the long term this increases the chances of developing better pain-relievers and perhaps even of repairing spinal damage.

Ingela Björck | alfa
Further information:
http://www.lu.se

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Speed data for the brain’s navigation system
06.12.2016 | Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V. (DZNE)

nachricht Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>