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

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

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