From Agony To Analgesia

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Controlling Pain20170823

How does the brain control pain? Professor of neuroimaging, Irene Tracey investigates.

Professor of Neuroimaging at Oxford University, Irene Tracey investigates the ways that the brain can control pain.
How can young children be taught how to deal with pain in their karate class and why do some marathon runners not feel their blisters until the race is over?
The brain is also influenced by beliefs and expectations so how can we learn how to harness these mechanisms to help people in chronic pain.

0101Seeing Pain20170816

Prof Irene Tracey, an expert in brain imaging, asks if we can ever know another's pain.

Irene Tracey is Professor of Neuroimaging at Oxford University and for 20 years has poked, prodded and burnt people to understand what is happening in the brain when someone feels pain. But does this growing body of evidence looking at the brains of people in pain mean we can really understand someone else's pain. Does imaging give an objective measure of a subjective experience and is one person's seven on the pain scale the same as that of someone else?

Pain is a highly complex process and still not fully understood. One of the biggest challenges to neuroscientists and clinicians is to work out why some people develop chronic pain and others in a similar situation don't. In conversation with her fellow researchers Irene shows how certain types of pain, such as that experienced by those with phantom limbs and those with diabetic nerve damage, can help reveal how pain is generated in the brain.

Irene also explores how we determine if premature babies feel pain and how best to treat that pain.

And she asks if the latest knowledge about pain is providing evidence strong enough to be used in the courtroom.

Image: Soccer player falling on field (c) Getty Images.

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