Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pain: Perception and motor impulses arise in the brain independently of one another

12.12.2018

Pain is a negative feeling that we want to get rid of as soon as possible. In order to protect our bodies, we react for example by withdrawing the hand. This action is usually understood as the consequence of the perception of pain. A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now shown that perception, the impulse to act and provision of energy to do so take place in the brain simultaneously and not, as was expected, one after the other.

Led by Markus Ploner, Heisenberg Professor for Human Pain Research, scientists from the Department of Neurology of the university hospital TUM Klinikum rechts der Isar investigated in detail how a painful event is processed in the brain.


Laura Tiemann, first author of the new study about pain perception, prepares together with Markus Ploner, Heisenberg Professor for Human Pain Research, a volunteer for the EEG-measurements.

Kurt Bauer / Technical University of Munich

For the first time they were able to show that the brain yields at least three different responses to a painful stimulus, and that these responses are simultaneous and independent of one another. The results may have fundamental repercussions for the understanding of pain and treatment of pain patients.

Pain embodies at least three factors: Perception of pain, an action such as withdrawing the hand from a hot stove, and a response of the autonomic nervous system which provides the necessary energy for the action. The autonomic nervous system controls essential functions such as heart rate, breathing, digestion and metabolism.

Combination of behavioral and EEG measurements

In their experiments, the researchers applied short pain stimuli of varying strengths to the back of the hand of healthy volunteers. The perception of pain was determined based on the participants evaluation of the stimulus on a rating scale.

The team, led by Markus Ploner, investigated the action component based on the reaction time the subjects needed to withdraw their fingers in response to the stimulus. Moreover, to determine the response of the autonomic nervous system, the team measured the sweat production at the interior surface of the hand.

For the entire duration of the experiment, brain activity was measured using electroencephalography (EEG). This method provides highly precise information on when and how nerve cells react to pain stimuli.

Pain components arise independently of one another

Ploner and his team applied a statistical method known as mediation analysis to the data. The method has been well established in the social sciences for some time now; however, this was its first application to EEG data. The team was thus able to find out which brain responses serve the three pain components, and when exactly they take place.

The results of the evaluations surprised the researchers: "For the first time we were able to see that the brain responses to the pain components did not take place one after the other, but rather in part simultaneously.

This means that the preparation for action and the provision of energy are not entirely dependent on the perception of pain; instead they are in part triggered independently of one another," explains Laura Tiemann, the study's lead author.

Comprehensive pain therapy for chronic pain patients

Although at first rather abstract, these findings could be of great importance to patients suffering from chronic pain. Ploner recommends considering all three components of pain in comprehensive pain therapy: "For chronic pain patients, it is possible that not only the perception of pain, but also the preparation and performance of actions against pain and the provision of the energy to do so are changed. Our findings are thus a biological argument for holistic pain therapy approaches that take different pain components into account. Such approaches would include psychotherapy and drug therapy as well as physiotherapy," Ploner says. This kind of therapy, referred to as Multimodal Pain Therapy, is already being offered at the TUM Interdisciplinary Center for Pain Medicine.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Dr. Markus Ploner
Department of Neurology of the university hospital
Klinikum rechts der Isar of the Technical University of Munich
Tel.: 089 4140-4608
markus.ploner@tum.de

Originalpublikation:

Laura Tiemann, Vanessa D. Hohn, Son Ta Dinh, Elisabeth S. May, Moritz M. Nickel, Joachim Gross and Markus Ploner: Distinct patterns of brain activity mediate perceptual and motor and autonomic responses to noxious stimuli, Nature Communications, October 2018, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06875-x (Open Access).
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-06875-x

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.professoren.tum.de/en/ploner-markus/ - Profile of Prof. Markus Ploner
https://www.painlabmunich.de/ - Research group of Markus Ploner
https://mediatum.ub.tum.de/1468890 - Download High Resolution Image

Dr. Ulrich Marsch | Technische Universität München

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Diabetes mellitus: A risk factor for early colorectal cancer
27.05.2020 | Nationales Centrum für Tumorerkrankungen (NCT) Heidelberg

nachricht Ultra-thin fibres designed to protect nerves after brain surgery
27.05.2020 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

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: Biotechnology: Triggered by light, a novel way to switch on an enzyme

In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...

Im Focus: New double-contrast technique picks up small tumors on MRI

Early detection of tumors is extremely important in treating cancer. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from normal tissue. The work is published May 25 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from...

Im Focus: I-call - When microimplants communicate with each other / Innovation driver digitization - "Smart Health“

Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.

When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy...

Im Focus: When predictions of theoretical chemists become reality

Thomas Heine, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at TU Dresden, together with his team, first predicted a topological 2D polymer in 2019. Only one year later, an international team led by Italian researchers was able to synthesize these materials and experimentally prove their topological properties. For the renowned journal Nature Materials, this was the occasion to invite Thomas Heine to a News and Views article, which was published this week. Under the title "Making 2D Topological Polymers a reality" Prof. Heine describes how his theory became a reality.

Ultrathin materials are extremely interesting as building blocks for next generation nano electronic devices, as it is much easier to make circuits and other...

Im Focus: Rolling into the deep

Scientists took a leukocyte as the blueprint and developed a microrobot that has the size, shape and moving capabilities of a white blood cell. Simulating a blood vessel in a laboratory setting, they succeeded in magnetically navigating the ball-shaped microroller through this dynamic and dense environment. The drug-delivery vehicle withstood the simulated blood flow, pushing the developments in targeted drug delivery a step further: inside the body, there is no better access route to all tissues and organs than the circulatory system. A robot that could actually travel through this finely woven web would revolutionize the minimally-invasive treatment of illnesses.

A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Stuttgart invented a tiny microrobot that resembles a white blood cell...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

German-British Research project for even more climate protection in the rail industry

28.05.2020 | Transportation and Logistics

A special elemental magic

28.05.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Skoltech scientists get a sneak peek of a key process in battery 'life'

28.05.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>