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Research on Applied Neuroplasticity: Rewiring the Brain to Ease Pain

Rewiring the Brain to Ease Pain (Wall Street Jour­nal):-

How you think about pain can have a major impact on how it feels. That’s the intrigu­ing con­clu­sion neu­ro­sci­en­tists are reach­ing as scan­ning tech­nolo­gies let them see how the brain process­es pain. That’s also the prin­ci­ple behind many mind-body approach­es to chron­ic pain that are prov­ing sur­pris­ing­ly effec­tive in clin­i­cal tri­als. Some are as old as med­i­ta­tion, hyp­no­sis and tai chi, while oth­ers are far more high tech.”

Link to Study Towards a phys­i­ol­o­gy-based mea­sure of pain (PloS One):

Abstract: Pain often exists in the absence of observ­able injury; there­fore, the gold stan­dard for pain assess­ment has long been self-report. Because the inabil­i­ty to ver­bal­ly com­mu­ni­cate can pre­vent effec­tive pain man­age­ment, research efforts have focused on the devel­op­ment of a tool that accu­rate­ly assess­es pain with­out depend­ing on self-report. Those pre­vi­ous efforts have not proven suc­cess­ful at sub­sti­tut­ing self-report with a clin­i­cal­ly valid, phys­i­ol­o­gy-based mea­sure of pain.

Recent neu­roimag­ing data sug­gest that func­tion­al mag­net­ic res­o­nance imag­ing (fMRI) and sup­port vec­tor machine (SVM) learn­ing can be joint­ly used to accu­rate­ly assess cog­ni­tive states. There­fore, we hypoth­e­sized that an SVM trained on fMRI data can assess pain in the absence of self-report. In fMRI exper­i­ments, 24 indi­vid­u­als were pre­sent­ed painful and non­painful ther­mal stim­uli.

Region of inter­est (ROI) analy­ses revealed that whole-brain pat­terns of activ­i­ty led to more accu­rate clas­si­fi­ca­tion than local­ized activ­i­ty from indi­vid­ual brain regions. Our find­ings demon­strate that fMRI with SVM learn­ing can assess pain with­out requir­ing any com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the per­son being test­ed. We out­line tasks that should be com­plet­ed to advance this approach toward use in clin­i­cal set­tings.

To learn more, see relat­ed arti­cles on Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and Med­i­ta­tion.

Source of pic: Big­Stock­Pho­to.

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