Friday, May 13, 2022

What Part Of The Brain Senses Pain

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Divisions Of The Reticular Formation

Brain Awareness Video Contest: Pain And The Brain

Traditionally, the nuclei are divided into three columns:

  • Raphe nuclei
  • Magnocellular red nucleus
  • Parvocellular reticular nucleus
  • Sagittal division reveals more morphological distinctions. The raphe nuclei form a ridge in the middle of the reticular formation, and directly to its periphery, there is a division called the medial reticular formation. The medial reticular formation is large, has long ascending and descending fibers, and is surrounded by the lateral reticular formation. The lateral reticular formation is close to the motor nuclei of the cranial nerves and mostly mediates their function. The raphe nuclei is the place of synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays an important role in mood regulation.

    The medial reticular formation and lateral reticular formation are two columns of neuronal nuclei with ill-defined boundaries that send projections through the medulla and into the mesencephalon . The nuclei can be differentiated by function, cell type, and projections of efferent or afferent nerves. The magnocellular red nucleus is involved in motor coordination, and the parvocellular nucleus regulates exhalation.

    Cross Section of the Pons: A cross section of the lower part of the pons showing the pontine reticular formation labeled as #9.

    The Battle Over Pain In The Brain

    A new study adds to a heated debate about where pain signals are processed

    Pain is an unpleasant but necessary sensation. The few people born without the ability to feel it must approach day-to-day tasks with extra caution. Without the ability to sense the effects of a broken bone or burned skin, its difficult to avoid harm. On the other hand, too much pain can be debilitating. Individuals with chronic pain often experience a host of additional negative effects on mental and physical health. Despite recent advances in uncovering the underlying mechanisms of pain perception in the brain, scientists are still debating the questions of where and how pain is processed.

    Over the years neuroscientists have identified the pain matrix, a set of brain areas including the anterior cingulate cortex, thalamus and insula that consistently respond to painful stimuli. Some researchers have since applied this concept to conclude that that rejection hurts because social pain and physical pain share similar mechanisms in the brain. Others have suggested that brain imaging could be an objective measure of pain for diagnosis and drug development, and even as evidence in court.

    From Sensing To Feeling

    So whats happening when it feels like your brain is hurting? Youre absolutely right that the brain has no nociceptors. In fact, nociceptors never develop in the brain; in embryos, the cells that are responsible for making nociceptors are different from the ones that make up the brain . The brain is so insensitive to painful stimuli that neurosurgeons do not apply anaesthesia to the brain tissue they operate upon, allowing patients to be awake and completely responsive for the whole procedure. You can see this phenomenon for yourself in the video;linked here. So if a brain is incapable of sending this feels bad! signals, why do headaches exist?

    Although nociceptors embedded in your sinuses are in the front of your face, the brain can still interpret sinus pain as coming from the middle of your head. Source:;

    One answer is that the brain mistakenly identifies pain as coming from the middle of your head. Your brain can be bad at localizing certain types of head pain because there are so many different types of tissues in the head, and many of them are pretty bad at communicating where the hurt is happening. Fellow sinus infection sufferers will know what Im talking about – inflammation of the spaces in just behind your forehead can feel like a knot of pain in the middle of your head.

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    Overview Of The Five Senses

      • B.A., Biology, Emory University
      • A.S., Nursing, Chattahoochee Technical College

      The ways we understand and perceive the world around us as humans are known as senses. We have five traditional senses known as taste, smell, touch, hearing, and sight. The stimuli from each sensing organ in the body are relayed to different parts of the;brain;through various pathways. Sensory information is transmitted from the;peripheral nervous system;to the;central nervous system. A structure of the brain called the;thalamus;receives most sensory signals and passes them along to the appropriate area of the;cerebral cortex;to be processed. Sensory information regarding smell, however, is sent directly to the olfactory bulb and not to the thalamus. Visual information is processed in the visual cortex of the;occipital lobe, sound is processed in the auditory cortex of the;temporal lobe, smells are processed in the olfactory cortex of the temporal lobe, touch sensations are processed in the somatosensory cortex of the;parietal lobe, and taste is processed in the gustatory cortex in the parietal lobe.;

      Cognitive Affective Psychophysiological And Behavioral Processes In Pain Perception And Regulation

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      In addition to the somatosensory elements of pain-processing described above, cognitive and emotional factors are implicit within the definition of pain offered by the International Association for the Study of Pain. Pain perception involves a number of psychological processes, including attentional orienting to the painful sensation and its source, cognitive appraisal of the meaning of the sensation, and the subsequent emotional, psychophysiological, and behavioral reaction, which then feedback to influence pain perception . Each of these processes will be detailed below.

      A schematic of nociception, pain perception, and the biobehavioral response to pain in the human nervous system.

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      What Does The Brain Do

      The brain controls what we think and feel, how we learn and remember, and the way we move and talk. But it also controls things we’re less aware of like the beating of our hearts and the digestion of our food.

      Think of the brain as a central computer that controls all the body’s functions. The rest of the nervous system is like a network that relays messages back and forth from the brain to different parts of the body. It does this via the spinal cord, which runs from the brain down through the back. It contains threadlike nerves that branch out to every organ and body part.

      When a message comes into the brain from anywhere in the body, the brain tells the body how to react. For example, if you touch a hot stove, the nerves in your skin shoot a message of pain to your brain. The brain then sends a message back telling the muscles in your hand to pull away. Luckily, this neurological relay race happens in an instant.

      From The Body To The Brain

      Nerve impulses carrying somatic sensations travel along fibers to the cell bodies of their respective neurons, which are located near the spinal cord. There, the release of neurotransmitters passes the signal along to fibers of the spinal cord itself, which run up to the brain. Throughout this process, signals from the diverse types of sensation remain separate, traveling via parallel pathways.

      For most of these signals, the primary destination in the brain is the somatosensory cortex, a wide strip of the most evolved part of the brain that runs across the top of the brain from ear to ear. Here and through connections with other brain regions, the myriad sensations of touch, temperature, and proprioception finally come together to be integrated into coherent, conscious experiencethe perception of the physical self and its immediate contact with the world around it.

      The brain can interpret where sensations are coming from because the somatosensory cortex is organized to reflect the way the body is laid outa kind of body map. The map isnt scaled to body size, but reflects sensitivity: the hands and face are relatively small physically, but because they are highly sensitive to touch, the parts of the somatosensory cortex that represent them are disproportionately large compared to those devoted to other body parts.

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        What happens when you’re cutting a bagel and slice your hand with the knife? Besides all the blood, you’ll probably feel an immediate sharp pain, followed by a longer-lasting dull ache. Eventually, both pains will go away. But what actually is pain? How do you sense it? What makes it go away? In this article, we’ll examine the neurobiology of pain, the various types of pain and how pain can be treated or managed.

        Pain is the most common reason that people seek medical attention. But pain is actually hard to define because it’s a subjective sensation. The International Association for the Study of Pain defines it as an “unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage” .

        Obviously, this definition is pretty vague. One physician even remarked that pain is whatever the patient says it is. So let’s just say that pain is a warning sensation to your brain that some type of stimulus is causing or may cause damage, and you should probably do something about it.

        Pain perception, or nociception , is the process by which a painful stimulus is relayed from the site of stimulation to the central nervous system. There are several steps in the nociception process:

        Nociception uses different neural pathways than normal perception . With nonpainful stimulation, the first group of neurons to fire are normal somatic receptors. When something causes pain, nociceptors go into action first.

        Where Does Emotion Hurt In The Body

        How does your brain respond to pain? – Karen D. Davis

          When people feel emotional pain, the same areas of the brain get activated as when people feel physical pain: the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex. In one study, these regions were activated when people experienced an experimental social rejection from peers. In another more real-life study, the same regions were activated when people who had recently broken up with romantic partners viewed pictures of the former partner.

          So, if physical and emotional pain have similar neural signatures, why not take Tylenol for grief, loss, or despair?

          In one study, people who had experienced a recent social rejection were randomly assigned to take acetaminophen vs. a placebo daily for three weeks. The people in the acetaminophen condition reported fewer hurt feelings during that period. When their brains were scanned at the end of the treatment period, the acetaminophen takers had less activation in the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex.

          This study was not done in order to promote acetaminophen and other analgesics as psychoactive drugs. Rather, the idea was to emphasize that over the course of evolution, our bodies decided to take the economic route and use a single neural system to detect and feel pain, regardless of whether it is emotional or physical. While it may be a good idea to take a pain reliever in the acute phase of feeling physical and emotional pain, no one is proposing this a long-term cure for dealing with hurt feelings and grief.

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          Neurons Lose Their Power

          After whisker trimming, neurons in the somatosensory cortex no longer responded more to visual and touch together than either sensory type alone. Click for more detail.

          Scientists studied how important early touch and visual information are for developing;the ability to combine this information. They did this by trimming the whiskers of rats during the first five days of life. They wanted to know whether trimming the whiskers of a rat during the first five days of life affected its ability to combine senses later in life.

          Once the rats were three weeks old and the whiskers regrew, scientists looked at brain activity in response to touch, vision, or a combination of both senses. They were mainly interested in the activity of neurons located within the visual and somatosensory areas of the brain.

          Scientists compared the brain activity of rats that had their whiskers trimmed to those that did not. Overall they found that neurons of the visual and somatosensory areas shared less information with each other in adult rats that had their whiskers trimmed. This meant that having touch information a few days after birth was very important for the brain to be able to combine touch and visual information later in life. However, they still did not know why.

          Zooming Into The Brain

          Fluorescence microscopy allows scientists to view how cells send signals between the visual and somatosensory regions of the brain. Click for more detail.

          Connections between neurons of the visual and the somatosensory areas develop with age. Because of this, scientists thought that maybe less information was shared between the visual and the somatosensory areas because connections between those areas did not develop correctly.

          To test this hypothesis, scientists injected fluorescent molecules into the somatosensory cortex. These molecules are absorbed and transported by neurons and allowed scientists to track the path of these neurons.

          Once the molecules arrived in the visual cortex the scientists inspected them with a fluorescence microscope. They saw less fluorescent molecules in the visual cortex of rats whose whiskers had been trimmed compared to rats with no whisker trimming. This meant that there were fewer connections between the visual and somatosensory brain regions.;

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          Ventricles And Cerebrospinal Fluid

          Deep in the brain are four open areas with passageways between them. They also open into the central spinal canal and the area beneath arachnoid layer of the meninges.

          The ventricles manufacture cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, a watery fluid that circulates in and around the ventricles and the spinal cord, and between the meninges. CSF surrounds and cushions the spinal cord and brain, washes out waste and impurities, and delivers nutrients.

          Components Of The Brainstem

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          The three components of the brainstem are the medulla oblongata, midbrain, and pons.

          Brainstem Anatomy: Structures of the brainstem are depicted on these diagrams, including the midbrain, pons, medulla, basilar artery, and vertebral arteries.

          The medulla oblongata; is the lower half of the brainstem continuous with the spinal cord. Its upper part is continuous with the pons. The medulla contains the cardiac, respiratory, vomiting, and vasomotor centers regulating heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure.

          The midbrain is associated with vision, hearing, motor control, sleep and wake cycles, alertness, and temperature regulation.

          The pons lies between the medulla oblongata and the midbrain. It contains tracts that carry signals from the cerebrum to the medulla and to the cerebellum. It also has tracts that carry sensory signals to the thalamus.

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          What Are The Parts Of The Brain

          The brain is made up of three main sections: the forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain.

          The Forebrain

          The forebrain is the largest and most complex part of the brain. It consists of the cerebrum the area with all the folds and grooves typically seen in pictures of the brain as well as some other structures under it.

          The cerebrum contains the information that essentially makes us who we are: our intelligence, memory, personality, emotion, speech, and ability to feel and move. Specific areas of the cerebrum are in charge of processing these different types of information. These are called lobes, and there are four of them: the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes.

          The cerebrum has right and left halves, called hemispheres. They’re connected in the middle by a band of nerve fibers that lets them communicate. These halves may look like mirror images of each other, but many scientists believe they have different functions:

          • The left side is considered the logical, analytical, objective side.
          • The right side is thought to be more intuitive, creative, and subjective.

          So when you’re balancing your checkbook, you’re using the left side. When you’re listening to music, you’re using the right side. It’s believed that some people are more “right-brained” or “left-brained” while others are more “whole-brained,” meaning they use both halves of their brain to the same degree.

          In the inner part of the forebrain sits the thalamus, hypothalamus, and :

          The Midbrain

          Show/hide Words To Know

          Cerebral Cortex: the outer layers of the brain responsible for important brain functions, like thinking and feeling…;more

          Fluorescence Microscopy: the use of microscopes and specific colors of light to see fluorescent, or glowing, parts of a cell…;more

          Retrograde staining: a method to trace the connection between two cells by following the path from where it ends to where it begins.

          Somatosensory Cortex: part of the brain that is mainly involved with touch including pressure, pain, and warmth.

          Stimulus: a signal that can activate or excite a response from an organism. Foods, sounds, and other triggers that cause specific behaviors or sensory experiences are stimuli.

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          Cognitive Appraisal Of Pain

          Pain involves a process of cognitive appraisal, whereby the individual consciously or unconsciously evaluates the meaning of sensory signals emanating from the body to determine the extent to which they signify the presence of an actual or potential harm. This evaluation is decidedly subjective. For instance, experienced weightlifters or runners typically construe the burn they feels in their muscles as pleasurable and indicative of increasing strength and endurance; in contrast, a novice might view the same sensation as signaling that damage had occurred. The inherent variability of cognitive appraisal of pain may stem from the neurobiological dissociation between the sensory and affective aspects of the pain experience; change in pain intensity results in altered activation of somatosensory cortex, whereas change in pain unpleasantness results in altered activation of the anterior cingulate cortex., Thus, a sensory signal originating from the muscles of lower back might be perceived as a warmth and tightness, or viewed as a terrible agony, in spite of the stimulus intensity being held constant. The manner in which the bodily sensation is appraised may in turn influence whether it is experienced as unpleasant pain or not.

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