Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Why some of us can, or can't, disengage from pain.

Kucyi et al.,  note a beneficial effect of mind wandering and increased default mode network activity on pain suppression. Here is the author's state of the significance of their work:
The mind easily wanders away from mundane tasks, but pain is presumed to automatically capture attention. We demonstrate that individuals differ in how often their minds spontaneously wander away from pain and that these differences are associated with the disruptive effect of pain on cognitive performance. Brain–behavior relationships underscore these individual differences. When people’s minds wander away from pain, there are increased activations of the default mode network (DMN) and strong interactions between the DMN and periaqueductal gray (PAG), an opiate-rich region mediating pain suppression. Individuals with greater tendencies to mind wander from pain have stronger anatomical links and dynamic functional communication between PAG and DMN. These findings provide clinically important clues about why some individuals cannot disengage from pain.

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