Pain researchers at Stanford experimenting with a type of MRI that shows where pain occurs in the brain and how to control it. The scans indicate where pain is activated, how it is being processed and how it comes about. Researchers hope that eventually such imaging can be used to test pain medications and see the effects in real-time. Since patients can sit in the brain scanner and see the areas of the brain that are activated by pain, it could also be used in meditation or mental imaging. This technology has many potential uses and may one day be used for all types of pain patients; but it is years away from being available to patients.
The story, Tracking and Controlling Pain by Sight, is available in Real Audio on the NPR website. Written media reports of it don’t seem to be available yet, but you can read the researchers’ abstract from the American Pain Society’s 2004 annual meeting.
Thanks to koober1 on the Brain Talk migraine forum for sharing this story.
Note added 12/14/05: The researchers’ abstract is no longer available, but the NPR piece is.