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OHSU researchers reveal the science of shivering
Date:12/17/2007

PORTLAND, Ore. Researchers at Oregon Health & Science Universitys Neurological Sciences Institute have uncovered the system that tells the body when to perform one of its most basic defenses against the cold: shivering. The scientists have discovered the brains wiring system, which takes temperature information from the skin and determines when a person should start shivering. Their findings are published in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Shivering, which is actually heat production in skeletal muscles, requires quite a bit of energy and is usually the last strategy the body uses to maintain its internal temperature to survive in a severe cold environment. Other strategies to defend against the cold, such as reducing heat loss to the environment by restricting blood flow to the skin, also appear to be controlled by the sensory mechanism that we found, explained Kazuhiro Nakamura, Ph.D., an OHSU Fellow for Research Abroad from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. He published the research along with his colleague Shaun Morrison, Ph.D., a senior scientist. One fascinating aspect of this study is that it shows the sensory pathway for shivering, which can be thought of as brain wiring, is parallel to but not the same as the sensory pathway for conscious cold detection. In other words, your body is both consciously and subconsciously detecting the cold at the same time using two different but related sensory systems.

The research was conducted by studying rats. It is believed that the information directly applies to humans because previous research has demonstrated many parallels between the two species regarding this basic function of sensing and regulating heat. While studying these rats, the researchers were able to trace the shivering sensory pathway from the skin to specialized cells in a portion of the brain called the lateral parabrachial nucleus. These cells can then transmit information to anothe
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Contact: Jim Newman
newmanj@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
Source:Eurekalert

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