How is a raven like a writing desk?

Lewis Carroll paints a picture of a world where very little makes sense; an adult wonderland seen through a child’s eyes. Yet, who is to say that what we see and the behaviours that we adopt really make sense to others? I was reading (not Alice in Wonderland this time) an interesting paper recently that suggested that when natural ambiguities … [Read more...]

From American flags to models of the spine – linking the impossible?

Flag Face Tattoo

I have just come across an intriguing paper in Psychological Science by Travis Carter and his mates in Chicago.  They did an experiment in which Americans who were filling out political surveys did so with either a small American flag in the corner of the screen, or nothing in the corner of the screen. They analysed the participants’ responses to … [Read more...]

What’s in a name? Nociception by any other name will hurt, or not hurt, just as much

A while back I wrote a piece about Consciousness and Pain, in which I argued that consciousness might be the key ingredient for pain.  I even tried my hand at a bit of maths, with this little equation (not to be taken too exactly): pain = nociception + consciousness.  I got a great response to this post.  People had some really interesting points … [Read more...]

Does smoking hurt as well as harm? (or, as if you needed another reason)

Charlotta Pisinger

I have a couple of mates who are veritable smoke-stacks. They love smoking but sort of hate being a smoker. I must confess that, at least within my community, smoking is now officially uncool and my mates are sick of people telling them good reasons to give up.  Well, as if they needed another reason, here is evidence that smoking hurts.  This is a … [Read more...]

Just a heartbeat away from one’s body

Manos Tsakiris

Body image means different things to different people. To many it refers to how one feels about one's body.  To us, it refers to how one's body feels to oneself and how one perceives its shape, orientation, agency and ownership.  Hopefully you can see that body image is critical to pain, because pain is, we reckon, necessarily felt in one's body. … [Read more...]

Can one have pain and not know it?

By Flavia Di Pietro I think about this a lot.  It leads me to ponder the distinction between pain and nociception.  We found a chapter on exactly this in a great book we are slowly reviewing at BiM – The Science of Pain.  The chapter’s title grabbed me: Conciousness and Pain.  It’s really got me thinking about both, and in particular that the … [Read more...]

The Lone Wolf or the Support Group Enthusiast?

What type of person are you?? When tough times come around – whether it is stress at work, a painful injury, or forced participation in Secret Santa – what do you do? Some people, those lone wolf types, find relief in being alone, taking some time to regroup, and dealing with the problem themselves. Others, aka the support group enthusiasts, prefer … [Read more...]

Lions and lollipops. The brain’s amazing race for meaning.

Some take the tube, others the train...The Amazing Race in the brain It makes sense that we need to process and respond to some stuff we see quicker than other stuff we see.  Take for instance a lion versus a lollipop.  This paper by Pessoa and Adolphs explores the mechanisms behind emotional processing of visual stimuli, and more specifically … [Read more...]

With The Touch of One’s Own Hand

Dr M Kammers

If you knock your hand arm on something sharp, what is the first thing you do? I bet most of you say 'rub it better'.  We take that automatic response for granted but some very clever people in London, which is in England, have taken a very elegant (LJ take note of the use of that word here!) approach to investigating it. Marjolein Kammers from … [Read more...]

Psychological obstacles to recovery in back pain: A rumble in the journal

I’m a little late to this one but an interesting disagreement recently emerged in the letters to the editor in the journal Pain. This focused around a recent study from the impressive Arthritis Research Campaign National Primary Care Centre at Keele University, UK into the psychological obstacles to recovery from low back pain. The study looked … [Read more...]