Why We React to Pain in Different Ways

Ever wondered why some people are much more sensitive to pain than others? Your sister might react intensely to a pin prick, while you would barely blink.  There are those kids that stumble and bump themselves, and get up with nary a complaint, while others howl in pain for hours afterwards. Researchers have just linked the way we feel pain with the structure of our brains. It seems that the amount of grey matter you have in your brain makes a big difference in your sensitivity to pain.

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC studied the reaction of 116 healthy volunteers when a small area of skin on their arm or leg was heated to 120 degrees Farenheit. After each participant rated his or her pain sensitivity, they underwent an MRI scan of their  brain structure.

The results –those with the highest pain intensity had less grey matter in the parts of the brain that are involved in internal thoughts and attention control.

According to Robert Coghill, senior study author and professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist, this suggests that “people who can keep their attention focused may also be better at keeping their pain under control.”

19. January 2014 by Chumie Drillick
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