Chronic Pain Alters Brain Function
Chronic pain is often only the start of the problem for sufferers, who also suffer high rates of depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. New research from Northwestern University shows the pain may cause a cognitive impairment which contributes to these disorders.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers scanned the brains of 15 subjects who suffered from chronic lower back pain and 15 healthy control subjects. Both groups performed a simple task in which they tracked a moving bar across a computer screen.
Researchers found that subjects with chronic pain used a far greater amount of their brains in the task. Among the extra active areas was a region known as the "default mode network." These areas of the brain failed to deactivate in individuals with chronic pain as they did in subjects without pain.
The findings suggest that chronic pain produces a notable change in brain functioning. In particular, an upset in the equilibrium of the default mode network may be the root of emotional and other disturbances accompanying chronic pain.
ABSTRACT: Beyond Feeling: Chronic Pain Hurts the Brain, Disrupting the Default-Mode Network Dynamics
Posted by FindCounseling.com Staff on February 06, 2008 at 04:54 PM | Permalink
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