(ORDO NEWS) — A pioneering study carried out by the University of Essex in collaboration with the Pain Neurobiology Group at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich has shed light on the existence of a unique “pain imprint” in the brain. A study examining rapid oscillations in brain waves associated with pain and touch found significant differences between individuals.
These brain waves, known as gamma oscillations, were previously thought to reflect the perception of pain in all cases. However, previous studies often overlooked differences between people, dismissing them as unimportant “noise” in the scans.
Dr Elia Valentini from the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex led the study and found significant differences in the timing, frequency and location of gamma oscillations between participants. Surprisingly, some people had no gamma waves at all.
Dr. Valentini explained: “For the first time, we can not only reveal extreme variability in the gamma response across individuals, but also demonstrate that the individual response pattern remains stable over time. This pattern of group variability and individual stability may extend to other brain responses, allowing we can identify individual pain imprints in brain activity.”
The results of the study were published in the Journal of Neurophysiology”, found patterns among participants from another laboratory, suggesting the phenomenon was reproducible.
The study analyzed data from 70 people and conducted two separate experiments using a pain-inducing laser. Overall, it was noted that the gamma waves of the participants were remarkably stable and When stimulated, they produced similar individual patterns.
Interestingly, in some participants the pain sensation was not accompanied by a corresponding gamma response, while in others it was significant. The
reason for this variation remains unknown, but the researchers hope that this study will serve as a stepping stone for future research.
Dr. Valentini emphasized the need to re-evaluate previous data on the relationship between pain and gamma oscillations: “We must start from scratch because the results of past studies do not capture the experiences of all participants. Unfortunately, these minority cases may bias the study results and lead to erroneous conclusions.”
“About the functional significance of these responses. Although we do not discount the role of gamma oscillations in the perception of pain, we will not be able to uncover their true role if we continue to quantify them, as has been done so far.”
Dr. Valentini hopes that this study will not only expand our understanding of pain perception, but also prompt a re-evaluation of how gamma oscillations are measured in other sensory areas.
This groundbreaking research opens up new possibilities for developing personalized pain treatment strategies and may pave the way for personalized treatments based on an individual’s unique pain signature.
Contact us: [email protected]