Learn something novel every decade

Sculpture Univeristy of Stuttgart

Newly edited we first published this blog post in 2010 just after the new year, now the text is freely available (see reference at the end of the post).  This is another in our golden oldies series. Further evidence to suggest we should learn something novel every decade I remember sitting my folks down and sternly counselling them to make … [Read more...]

Chronic Pain: Lost Inhibition? PART TWO

In our last blog (Chronic Pain: Lost Inhibition?) we talked about the role of the thalamus in the development and maintenance of orofacial neuropathic pain. We reported that painful trigeminal neuropathic pain (PTN) is associated with altered thalamic anatomy, function and biochemistry, which may disturb central processing and play a key role in … [Read more...]

Directing Attention to Pain

Pain captures our attention instantaneously, and makes it hard to pay attention to anything else. But is it possible to direct attention to pain voluntarily and in a specific manner? Which brain mechanisms would drive voluntary direction of attention to pain? Why is this important? It is likely that chronic pain patients have exaggerated … [Read more...]

From Cue to Meaning

Oleg Lobanov

Sensory cues in our environment continuously guide processing in the brain. A simple touch, tone or a flash of light shapes our thought process countless numbers of times per day. In pain, cues leading to expectations of higher upcoming pain not only increase subjective pain ratings, but also increase the degree of activity in brain areas engaged … [Read more...]

Stability of conditioned pain modulation in patients with chronic pain: Implications for pain assessment & treatment

Marc O Martel

Over the past few decades, considerable evidence has accumulated indicating that pain may be modulated by a variety of endogenous pain-inhibitory processes. These operate at various levels of the central nervous system (CNS), and play a role in shaping the subjective experience of pain. Importantly, several lines of research suggest that … [Read more...]

Chronic Pain: Lost Inhibition?

While working with chronic neuropathic pain sufferers over the last few years, quite often I was asked if there is a “pain center” within our body, particularly in the brain, where pain is generated. One of my chronic pain patients actually quipped: “If you tell me where the pain hub is I will go to a surgeon and let them cut it out”. … [Read more...]

Altered brain function and structure in chronic low back pain

Nathalie Roussel

Many studies trying to unravel the chronic pain picture suggest that differences in central pain-transmitting systems may explain chronic pain. Our body disposes of several internal mechanisms to regulate the pain, which are deficient in patients with whiplash associated disorders, fibromyalgia, etc. We reviewed the central pain processing in … [Read more...]

It is the instrument that shapes your brain and not only the time you spend with it

Martin Lotze

We know that repetitive training changes functional circuits and even the structure of the brain.  These structural changes are especially prominent in people who train for many years several hours a day, for example musicians who are highly motivated to play their instrument and often have extensive training periods. It has been demonstrated … [Read more...]

Structural changes in chronic pain. The innocent bystander?

Most BiM readers will be familiar with a body of research indicating that chronic pain is associated with apparent structural changes in the brain. We’ve discussed this issue here at length (see here and here). These findings, principally of reductions in grey matter density across a smattering of brain regions, have led researchers, myself … [Read more...]

VBM – voxel-based morphometry or very bad measurement?

Brain imaging technology has become a big player in the world of pain research in the last 2 decades. In more recent years voxel based morphometry (VBM), which allows us to look at structural changes in the brain (specifically neuronal matter density) has produced some eyebrow raising research in chronic pain. It is this technology that produced … [Read more...]