Itching to Understand Dynorphin Knowing Neurons

Itching to Understand Dynorphin

Bzzzzzz!  Splat!  Ugh!  Anyone who has ever been around a campfire during the summer months is familiar with this progression of noises.  Mosquito bites and the resulting welts provide unwelcome souvenirs of time spent outdoors.  We all know we shouldn’t scratch.  Itch like pain is an aversive stimulus that alerts us to threats to the body.  But when the itch becomes too unbearable, we all give in.  Scratching is designed to remove irritants from the skin (at least temporarily), but don’t be fooled by this instant gratification!  Scratching causes tissue damage that increases the severity of the itch by releasing inflammatory particles.Continue reading

Taxi Photoswitch Knowing Neurons

Turning On A “Photoswitch” Helps Blind Mice See The Light

Our senses connect us to the world.  Your visual system lets you know that there is a yellow car ahead of you, and your auditory system lets you know that it is honking its horn.  As unique as each sensory system seems, they actually share basic characteristics and similarities of structure and function.  Beginning with a stimulus (the vision of the car or the sound of the horn), a cascade of complex interactions occurs that send signals through neural circuits so that we can respond to our surroundings.Continue reading

Channeling Your Response to Pain Knowing Neurons Neuroscience

Channeling Your Response to Pain

“Ouch!”  Thanks to our always-alert sensory neurons that provide a spatial sense of self (proprioception) and pain (nociception), we receive an early warning to any noxious stimuli  (think needle prick or a hot stove).  Sometimes our responses to these stimuli are exaggerated and we experience hypersensitivity to pain.  Remember how painful lukewarm water feels on sunburnt skin?  This hyperalgesia can be very severe. Examples include the intense neuropathic pain caused by blowing on the skin of patients with nerve damage, the muscular pain associated with the disabling pain disorder fibromyalgia, and the excruciatingly painful phantom limb syndrome.Continue reading

A World Without Pain Knowing Neurons Jillian Shaw Ouch

A World Without Pain

In Northern Pakistan, a ten-year old street performer awed and horrified crowds with his ability to place knives through his arms and walk across burning coals all seemingly without pain.  Closer examination by physicians revealed that he could perceive sensations of touch, differentiate between hot and cold temperatures, distinguish between a tickle and applied pressure, but had no aversion to painful stimuli.  Continue reading

What is Pain Cover Spinal Cord Knowing Neurons Neuropathic Dorsal Root Ganglia C-fiber

What is Pain?

For many, pain is an indescribably awful feeling that causes suffering and emotional distress.  It is a sensation that is so unpleasant – so unbearable – that most people will go to great lengths to avoid it.  For others, enduring pain has become a rite of passage (tattoo, anyone?) that signifies mental strength and discipline.  The ceremony, however, does not diminish the pain itself or one’s primal urge to avoid it.  Regardless, many people live a relatively pain-free life, and those that choose to endure pain do so on their own free will.  For those that suffer from neuropathic pain, however, pain has become an unavoidable specter that haunts every moment of their lives.Continue reading