Scientists find brain center that 'profoundly' shuts down pain

news
25/05/2020

A research team has found a small area of the brain in mice that can profoundly control the animals' sense of pain. Somewhat unexpectedly, this brain center turns pain off, not on. It's located in an area where few people would have thought to look for an anti-pain center, the amygdala, which is often considered the home of negative emotions and responses, like the fight or flight response and general anxiety.

Somewhat unexpectedly, this brain center turns pain off, not on. It's also located in an area where few people would have thought to look for an anti-pain center, the amygdala, which is often considered the home of negative emotions and responses, like the fight or flight response and general anxiety.

"People do believe there is a central place to relieve pain, that's why placebos work," said senior author Fan Wang, the Morris N. Broad Distinguished Professor of neurobiology in the School of Medicine. "The question is where in the brain is the center that can turn off pain."

"Most of the previous studies have focused on which regions are turned ON by pain," Wang said. "But there are so many regions processing pain, you'd have to turn them all off to stop pain. Whereas this one center can turn off the pain by itself."

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