Navigation Links
This is your brain on pain
Date:7/19/2012

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston professor Volker Neugebauer has been awarded a four-year, $1.36 million grant by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to conduct an innovative study of the relationship between pain and parts of the brain associated with cognitive thought and emotional response.

The goal of Neugebauer's study is to understand a process that causes hyperactivity in the amygdala, a key emotional center, leading to persistent pain and uncomfortable states like fear and anxiety. The investigation will focus on pain-induced disruption of nerve-signal traffic between the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain involved in so-called "executive" decision-making functions.

"Normally in the brain we have a balanced interaction between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, with the amygdala providing valuable emotion-based information to the cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex sending back signals that keep amygdala activity under control," Neugebauer said. "But abnormal pain input can trigger changes in the amygdala that enhance its output, overpowering the medial prefrontal cortex."

When this occurs, the medial prefrontal cortex loses the ability to control the amygdala, creating a vicious cycle of sustained disturbance.

"The amygdala activity continues independently of the original input, resulting in these persistent pain and emotion states," Neugebauer said. "We think this happens in chronic pain, and also in anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, when the normal fear response persists abnormally. We're going to study the mechanics of this process, trying to identify specific targets that could allow us to regain control of amygdala activity."

To accomplish this objective, Neugebauer will conduct behavioral experiments and studies of brain electrical activity in laboratory rats that have been given experimental compounds known to increase cortical output. Then, working with thin slices of rat brain, he'll apply electrophysiological techniques that allow him to zero in on particular synapses tiny gaps between nerve cells, across which signals are transmitted by molecules called neurotransmitters.

"In our behavioral studies we'll be doing tests to determine how our cortical manipulations affect decision-making, emotional aspects of behavior and anxiety-like behavior in rats suffering from pain very like that of arthritis," Neugebauer said. "Then we'll make electrophysiological recordings of individual neurons of intact, living animals neurons in the cortex, neurons in the amygdala as we manipulate cortical activity, so we can study this interaction. Finally, we'll take slices from the cortex and the amygdala, which allows us to pinpoint the site of drug action and the site of changes in a particular synapse."

Such detailed analysis of the engagement between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala and its involvement in persistent pain and emotional disturbance has never been done before, Neugebauer said, and it has potential for broader applications; the brain circuits involved in addiction, for example, show similarities to those he will be investigating. In addition, he notes, better insights into the connections between a cognitive brain center and an emotional one may have implications for cognitive-behavioral therapy a psychotherapeutic approach that emphasizes the use of cognitive techniques to overcome emotional distress.

"I'm not going to go so far as to say that this will definitely lead to a new pain therapy, but I think as a concept it could lead to a new strategy to deal with the more complex aspects of pain," Neugebauer said. "It should also be useful as a model, a tool for helping us understand more of how the brain is involved in these conditions when things go wrong. And finally, I think that it really has broad appeal for other fields, areas like PTSD, addiction and anxiety."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jim Kelly
jpkelly@utmb.edu
409-772-8791
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Study Suggests Vaccine May Help Kids With Brain Cancer
2. Epilepsy Leads to More Brain Abnormalities Over Time
3. UCLA Brain Injury Research Center gets NCAA funding for research on sports concussions
4. Why is traumatic brain injury increasing among the elderly?
5. Brain Falters Near End of Life, but Games, Puzzles Might Slow Decline
6. Dental X-Rays May Be Linked to Benign Brain Tumors
7. Nonsurgical Method to Measure Brain Pressure Shows Promise
8. Researchers Map Brain Regions Linked to Intelligence
9. Football-related catastrophic brain injuries on the rise
10. Brain Tumor Vaccine Shows Promise in Early Trial
11. Brain Surgery Might Ease Tough-to-Treat OCD
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/13/2017)... WI (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... As ... in medicine known as “patient engagement.” The patient is doing more than filling out ... partners. , “There is an increasing emphasis in health care and research on ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... The International Association of ... of excellence for the field of eating disorders, announces the opening of early ... in Orlando, Florida at the Omni Resort at ChampionsGate. , The ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 13, 2017 , ... Lori R. Somekh, founder of the Law Office ... of elder law and special needs planning attorneys. “Membership in ElderCounsel helps our office ... forum to network with elder law attorneys nationwide,” said Somekh. , ElderCounsel ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... The Visiting ... Day Market. Featuring a collection of specialty vendors and unique items from across the ... and quality-focused health and wellness services offered by the VNA. The boutique will ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Yisrayl Hawkins, ... week that explains one of the most popular and least understood books in the ... cryptic and puzzling descriptions that have baffled scholars for centuries. Many have tossed it ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... --  Divoti USA will engrave and process all ... the latest FDA requirements, which stipulates new criteria regarding medical device ... of Medical ID jewelry such as Medical ID Bracelets, can rest ... terms of the new FDA requirements . ... Divoti offers this dark mark fiber laser engraving ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... , Oct. 11, 2017  Caris Life Sciences ... on fulfilling the promise of precision medicine, today announced ... joined Caris, Precision Oncology Alliance™ (POA) as its 17 ... centers, the St. Jude Crosson Cancer Institute will help ... the use of tumor profiling, making cancer treatment more ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. , Oct. 10, 2017  NDS received ... Mobile  — a medical-grade battery-powered display stand specifically designed for ... aims to transform technology into a clinical solution to support the ... costs. Innovative Design ... NDS ZeroWire Mobile Wireless Solution ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: