Navigation Links
Doctors learn to control their own brains' pain responses to better treat patients
Date:9/27/2007

Physicians apparently learn to shut off the portion of their brain that helps them appreciate the pain their patients experience while treating them and instead activate a portion of the brain connected with controlling emotions, according to new research using brain scans at the University of Chicago.

Because doctors sometimes have to inflict pain on their patients as part of the healing process, they also must develop the ability to not be distracted by the suffering, said Jean Decety, Professor in Psychology and Psychiatry at the University and co-author of Expertise Modulates the Perception of Pain in Others, published in the Oct. 9 issue of Current Biology and available Thursday at noon on-line.

They have learned through their training and practice to keep a detached perspective; without such a mechanism, performing their practice could be overwhelming or distressing, and as a consequence impair their ability to be of assistance for their patients said Decety, who conducted the study with Yawei Cheng of the Institute of Neuroscience, National Yang-Ming University in Taipei, and colleagues there.

Previous research, including work from Decetys lab, has shown that the neural circuit that registers pain, is activated if a person sees another person in pain. The response in this circuit, which includes the anterior insula, periaqueducal gray and anterior cigulate cortex, is automatic and may reflect a panic response developed evolutionally as a means of avoiding danger.

The research by Decety and the Taiwanese team shows for the first time that people can learn to control that automatic response.

The team performed its research in Taiwan with two groups of evenly matched men and women with a mean age of 35 and similar socio-economic and educational levels-- a group of 14 physicians and 14 people with no experience in acupuncture. They were tested using a functional MRI.

Brain responses were recorded as individuals from the two groups looked at short video-clips in which people were pricked with acupuncture needles in their mouth regions, hands, and feet. They also watched as the patients were touched with Q-tips. The images appeared in random order.

Among the control group, the scan showed that the pain circuit, which comprises somatosensory cortex, anterior insula, periaqueducal gray and anterior cigulate cortex, was activated when members of that group saw someone touch with a needle but not activated when the person was touched with a Q-tip.

Physicians registered no increase in activity in the portion of the brain related to pain, whether they saw an image of someone stuck with a needle or touched with a Q-tip. However, the physicians, unlike the control group, did register an increase in activity in the frontal areas of the brain--the medial and superior prefrontal cortices and the right tempororparietal junction. That is the neural circuit that is related to emotion regulation and cognitive control.

They also asked the two groups to rate the level of pain they felt people were experiencing while being pricked with needles. The control group rated the pain at about 7 points on a 10-point scale, while the physicians said the pain was probably at 3 points on that scale.

Those findings reflected the prediction the scholars had going into the study.

It would not be adaptive if this automatic sharing mechanism for pain was not modulated by cognitive control. Think, for instance, of the situations that surgeons, dentists, and nurses face in their everyday professional practices. Without some regulatory mechanism, it is very likely that medical practioners would experience personal distress and anxiety that would interfere with their ability to heal, the researchers write.

For Decety, this new study also casts light on the mechanisms involved in empathy and empathic concern. The former relies on our capacity to share emotions and feelings with others. If there is too much of an overlap between others and self, such an overlap (reflected by similar neural circuits that automatically and unconsciously resonate between self and other) it could lead to personal distress, which is an aversive reaction. Empathic concern necessitates to regulate our implicit sharing mechanism and frees up processing capacity to act for the sake of the other.


'/>"/>

Contact: William Harms
w-harms@uchicago.edu
773-702-8356
University of Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Doctors closer to using gene analysis to help trauma patients
2. Survey reveals women and doctors arent talking about HPV
3. Doctors should stop prescribing antibiotics for the common cold, review advises
4. Stanford doctors advance in bid to turn mice stem cells into blood vessels
5. New Discovery May Help Doctors Treat Infertility
6. Should doctors tell patients about expensive, unfunded drugs?
7. Efficiency, not more doctors, is the prescription for aging population
8. Patients and their doctors have different perceptions about HIV and its treatment
9. Free drug samples influence prescribing, say one in three doctors
10. Reminding doctors which antibiotics to prescribe cuts C. difficile infection rates
11. Genes and biomarkers that allow doctors to choose the right therapy for the right patient
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... Apr. 11, 2017 Research and Markets has ... report to their offering. ... The global eye tracking market to grow at a CAGR of ... Eye Tracking Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based on an in-depth ... market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. The ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... Today HYPR Corp. , leading innovator ... of the HYPR platform is officially FIDO® Certified ... architecture that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune 500 enterprises ... over 15 million users across the financial services industry, ... product suites and physical access represent a growing portion ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... 2017 The research team of The Hong ... fingerprint identification by adopting ground breaking 3D fingerprint minutiae recovery and ... speed and accuracy for use in identification, crime investigation, immigration control, ... ... A research team led ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/20/2017)... ... ... USDM Life Sciences , the leading risk management, technological innovation and ... announce Holger Braemer as Vice President of its Europe division and Managing ... , Braemer is an integral part of USDM’s expansion of services and solutions for ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... LAVAL, QC , April 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - Prometic Life ... today presented new results at the International Liver Congress ("ILC") ... Liver ("EASL") in Amsterdam on the ... in a mouse model of obesity and metabolic syndrome. ... According to Dr. Lyne Gagnon, ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... ... April 20, 2017 , ... Open Therapeutics and the ... sharing and commercialization model. , The Center for Advancing Innovation helps institutions maximize ... effort is bringing the IP to the attention of the entrepreneurial community and ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... , April 20, 2017 For today, ... on novel drug development and clinical research aimed at treating ... Inc. (NASDAQ: BSTG), Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: KERX), Kite Pharma ... ZIOP ). You can access our complimentary research reports on ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: