Pain levels measured in brain using MRI

June 7, 2009 at 1:27 PM   |   Comments

1 of 3
| License Photo
OXFORD, England, June 7 (UPI) -- British scientists say they have for the first time developed a way to use brain scans to objectively measure the levels of pain felt by patients.

Using magnetic resonance imaging, researchers have found distinct differences between the brains of people who are experiencing pain and those who are not. That means doctors may have a way to measure suffering based on something other than asking patients how they are feeling, The Sunday Times of London reported.

"Pain seems to increase the blood flow to certain parts of the brain, roughly in proportion to the amount of pain felt, and we can measure that activation in a brain scan," Irene Tracey, professor of anaesthetic science at Oxford University, told the newspaper.

She and her colleagues reportedly have found the brain employs a "pain matrix" wherein physical suffering typically activates more than a dozen parts of the brain -- a distinct contrast with other senses such as vision or hearing that only stimulate just one part of the brain.

The Sunday Times said the findings indicate pain could one day be measured objectively, a development that would have big legal and social implications.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Most Popular
Newfoundland fossil is earliest evidence of muscled animals
Obama's plan calls for computer chip implants to help soldiers heal
Study: gamblers' brains not unlike those of pigeons
Washington State's Elwha River flows free once again
Tech industry All Stars developing 'Star Trek'-style communication badges
Trending News