Can the brain feel pain?

Can the brain feel pain?

by andrea cortes on October 05, 2022 Categories: Blog

(Leer en Español)

The question itself is not simple, because although the brain has no pain receptors. However, the meninges, periosteum and scalp all have pain receptors. So, technically, the brain cannot feel pain, so surgery is performed on it, even when the patient is awake. The brain is the perception tool for pain. To give you an example, suppose you are walking barefoot in a room, and you step on a Lego, your special pain receptors are activated and an impulse travel through the foreign body to the spinal cord and from there all the way to the brain. And this happens in a split second.

Pain is a complex warning system, for example, if you stub your toe, the peripheral nervous system sends a signal to the brain, which then decides how much danger it poses. If it decides that the signal is worth attention, it increases the amount of pain until the problem is solved, but if it is not worth attention, the pain is simply muted. The system works well for acute pain, such as a toe, but for chronic conditions such as articular cartilage damage, where there is no quick fix for a loss of cartilage in a knee, for example, the part of the brain that receives and sends the signals becomes much more sensitive over time. Scientists say the more pain the brain processes, the more prepared it becomes until it is on constant alert.

Can the brain feel pain?

The power of emotions! The "circuits" of emotions and pain overlap in the brain. Shared neural networks are what nature calls "thrifty pathways" because they allow the brain to process multiple emotions at once. Indeed, negative emotions are to pain what gasoline thrown on a fire is to pain, because they not only make the pain worse, but in some cases, they are the cause of it. In fact, of course, the opposite is also true. Positive emotions can also reduce pain. Chronic pain sufferers have shown that when they are not emotionally on top of their game, they are less motivated to exercise or socialize with friends. These are in fact essential to changing patterns of pain because they help to break the pattern of attachment to pain and trigger the release of feel-good endorphins and the body's natural opioids.

In summary, therefore, the experience of pain is generated in the brain by information for our nervous system, other senses, existing knowledge, previous experiences and the general context, studies have shown that pain and emotion are processed in the same part of the brain, so there is a close link between emotional feeling and pain.

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Information complied by: Dezső Sándor.