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Tracking Pain in the Brain

April 30, 2018

Researchers make a map of the brain cells that transmit pain.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

A brain map of pain. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Chronic pain is notoriously hard to treat, in part because so little is known about how pain signals are transmitted from one neuron to another in the brain. To find out, scientists made the brain cells of mice glow when they’re activated by pain. Along with other techniques, this allowed them to map out the neurons that send pain signals to the thalamus, an area of the brain where pain is processed. Texas A&M School of Dentistry neuroscientist Mikhail Umorin presented the research at the annual meeting of the American Association of Anatomists.

MIKHAIL UMORIN (Texas A&M School of Dentistry):

We were able to see the neurons that are connected to the neurons that transmit pain.

HIRSHON:

By understanding the connection between these neurons and the genes that activate them, the researchers hope to develop safer, more effective treatments for chronic pain. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard