The perception of pain is essential for survival, but the intensity of pain that a person feels can be amplified or decreased. Soldiers wounded in combat, for example, often claim to have felt no pain at the time.
A new study published Tuesday in the American scientific journal Cell Reports reports the functioning of the brain circuit responsible for increasing or attenuating pain signals, and compares the mechanism with a thermostat that regulates the temperature of a room in a house.
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Yarimar Carrasquillo, principal author of the work and researcher at the National Center for Integrative and Complementary Health (NCCIH), told AFP that the brain region responsible for this mechanism is the central tonsil, a structure that meets a Essential function in the decoding of emotions.
According to the study, the tonsil seems to play a double role.
Carrasquillo and his colleagues discovered, working with mice, that the activity in neurons that express the protein kinase C-delta amplify pain, while neurons that express somatostine inhibit the transmission chain in the nerves used to communicate pain.
Feeling pain is an essential warning so that a person knows they need help, for example in cases of appendicitis or a heart attack.
People born with pain insensitivity do not perceive the severity of their injuries and consequently are in greater danger of death.
However, not all pains are useful. According to a 2012 study, about 11% of American adults suffer from chronic physical pain.
This type of condition often generates dependence on powerful analgesics such as opiates, or promotes self-medication in patients through inappropriate or illegal products.
"The healthy reaction is: you feel pain, it tells you that something is wrong, you receive a treatment and the pain goes away," said Carrasquillo.
“In the case of chronic pain … the system is blocked. If we can identify what blocks the system, we can reverse the phenomenon. ”
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