Pain In The Brain: Its Not What You Imagine
Researchers are one step closer to unravelling the mystery of medically unexplained pain such as chronic low back pain, which continues to baffle doctors. A study exploring the experience of pain in hypnotised volunteers has found that some types of pain which cannot be traced to a medical condition may have its origins in our brains, not in our bodies.
The study by University College London and University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre found that volunteers who felt pain as a result of hypnotic suggestion showed strikingly similar brain activity to those subjected to physical pain via pulses of heat at 49 degrees Celsius.
The study, to appear in the next issue of NeuroImage, also found that when the volunteers were asked to simply imagine that they felt the same pain, they had significantly different brain activity than under hypnotised and physical pain conditions.
Dr David Oakley, Director of UCLs Hypnosis Unit, says: "The fact that hypnosis was able to induce a genuine painful experience suggests that some pain really can begin in our minds. People reporting this type of pain are not simply imagining it.”
A separate hypnosis study by Dr Oakley and UCL Professor Patrick Haggard explored the basis of free-will in hypnotised volunteers who were asked to deliberately move their finger, were told their finger would move ‘all by itself’ or had their finger moved for them.
The study, which will appear in the next issue of Consciousness and Cognition, found that volunteers under hypnosis reported that when their finger moved ‘all by itself’ it felt involuntary even though they had actually moved it themselves.
Dr Oakley says: "This study questions the conscious nature of free-will, which is an important issue for society. For example, in legal terms someone may only be considered responsible for a criminal act if it is performed with conscious intention."
In both studies volunteers were chosen using the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, where those scoring 8 or more out of 12 were selected. Volunteers were hypnotised using a simple procedure involving imagery such as going down stairs or descending in a lift.
Dr Oakley adds: “Studies such as these, published in reputable scientific journals, provide good evidence that hypnosis has moved out of the Dark Ages and is now recognised as a valuable research tool. Hypnosis offers a safe way of altering a person’s experience of themselves or of the world around them. Brain imaging is another good way of exploring these reported changes – you cant easily fool a brain scanner."
Jenny Gimpel | alfa
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...