Study identifies brain regions activated when pain intensity doesn’t match expectation [news release]
Study identifies brain regions activated when pain intensity doesn’t match expectation – Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
From the 27 May 2015 news release
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – May 27, 2015 – Picture yourself in a medical office, anxiously awaiting your annual flu shot. The nurse casually states, “This won’t hurt a bit.” But when the needle pierces your skin it hurts, and it hurts a lot. Your expectations have been violated, and not in a good way.
In a study published in the early online edition of the journal PAIN, researchers atWake Forest Baptist Medical Center have identified through imaging the part of the brain that is activated when a person expects one level of pain but experiences another.
“This finding gives us a better understanding of the importance of how our expectations of pain affect the experience of pain,” said Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist and first author of the study. “This effect shows us how important it is to manage people’s expectations when it comes to pain.”
Previous studies have shown that the expectation of intense pain can make pain feel worse while the expectation of milder pain can make it hurt less. However, the brain mechanisms associated with processing mismatches between expected and experienced pain have been poorly understood.
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