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 Collagen nanofibrils in mammalian tissues get stronger with exercise
14.12.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule
12.12.2018 | UT Southwestern Medical Center

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: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When a fish becomes fluid

17.12.2018 | Studies and Analyses

Progress in Super-Resolution Microscopy

17.12.2018 | Life Sciences

How electric heating could save CO2 emissions

17.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>