full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Karen D. Davis: How does your brain respond to pain?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Let's say that it would take you ten mtenius to solve this puzzle. How long would it take if you rviceeed constant electric shocks to your hands? Longer, right? Because the pain would distract you from the task. Well, maybe not; it depends on how you hnldae pain. Some people are distracted by pain. It takes them longer to complete a task, and they do it less well. Other people use tkass to distract themselves from pain, and those people actually do the task faster and better when they're in pain than when they're not. Some people can just send their mind wandering to distract themselves from pain. How can different people be subjected to the exact same painful stimulus and yet epcenexrie the pain so differently? And why does this matter? First of all, what is pain? Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, associated with actual or potential tissue dagmae. Pain is something we experience, so it's best measured by what you say it is. Pain has an intensity; you can describe it on a scale from zero, no pain, to ten, the most pain imaginable. But pain also has a ccearhtar, like sahrp, dull, birnung, or aching. What exactly creates these perceptions of pain? Well, when you get hurt, special tissue damage-sensing nrvee cells, called nociceptors, fire and send signals to the spinal cord and then up to the barin. Processing work gets done by cells called neurons and glia. This is your Grey matter. And brain superhighways carry ioanromitfn as electrical impulses from one area to another. This is your white matter. The superhighway that carries pain information from the spinal cord to the brain is our sensing pathway that ends in the cortex, a part of the brain that decides what to do with the pain sngial. Another system of icoennrcettend brain cells called the salience network decides what to pay atoeinttn to. Since pain can have serious consequences, the pain signal immediately activates the salience norewtk. Now, you're pnaiyg attention. The brain also responds to the pain and has to cope with these pain signals. So, motor pathways are activated to take your hand off a hot stove, for example. But modulation networks are also atvceatid that delveir enndiophrs and elennaihpks, chemicals released when you're in pain or during emxetre exercise, creating the runner's high. These camihcel systems help regulate and reduce pain. All these networks and pathways work together to create your pain experience, to peernvt further tsuise damage, and help you to cope with pain. This setysm is slimair for everyone, but the sensitivity and efficacy of these brain circuits determines how much you feel and cope with pain. This is why some people have greater pain than others and why some develop chronic pain that does not rospend to treatment, while others respond well. Variability in pain sensitivities is not so different than all knids of variability in responses to other stimuli. Like how some people love rleolr coasters, but other peolpe suffer from terrible motion sickness. Why does it matter that there is variability in our pain brain circuits? Well, there are many treatments for pain, targeting different systems. For mild pain, non-prescription medications can act on clles where the pain signals start. Other stronger pain medicines and anesthetics work by reducing the activity in pain-sensing circuits or boosting our coping system, or endorphins. Some people can cope with pain using mthdoes that ivnvole distraction, relaxation, meditation, yoga, or strategies that can be taught, like cognitive behavioral therapy. For some people who suffer from severe chronic pain, that is pain that doesn't go away months after their injury should have healed, none of the regular treatments work. Traditionally, medical science has been about testing treatments on large groups to determine what would help a majority of pantites. But this has usually left out some who didn't benefit from the treatment or experienced side effects. Now, new teeatrmnts that directly stimulate or block certain pain-sensing attention or modulation networks are being doepeveld, along with ways to tailor them to individual patients, using tloos like mnatigec resonance imaging to map brain pathways. fiirungg out how your brain responds to pain is the key to finding the best treatment for you. That's true personalized medicine.

Open Cloze

Let's say that it would take you ten _______ to solve this puzzle. How long would it take if you ________ constant electric shocks to your hands? Longer, right? Because the pain would distract you from the task. Well, maybe not; it depends on how you ______ pain. Some people are distracted by pain. It takes them longer to complete a task, and they do it less well. Other people use _____ to distract themselves from pain, and those people actually do the task faster and better when they're in pain than when they're not. Some people can just send their mind wandering to distract themselves from pain. How can different people be subjected to the exact same painful stimulus and yet __________ the pain so differently? And why does this matter? First of all, what is pain? Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, associated with actual or potential tissue ______. Pain is something we experience, so it's best measured by what you say it is. Pain has an intensity; you can describe it on a scale from zero, no pain, to ten, the most pain imaginable. But pain also has a _________, like _____, dull, _______, or aching. What exactly creates these perceptions of pain? Well, when you get hurt, special tissue damage-sensing _____ cells, called nociceptors, fire and send signals to the spinal cord and then up to the _____. Processing work gets done by cells called neurons and glia. This is your Grey matter. And brain superhighways carry ___________ as electrical impulses from one area to another. This is your white matter. The superhighway that carries pain information from the spinal cord to the brain is our sensing pathway that ends in the cortex, a part of the brain that decides what to do with the pain ______. Another system of ______________ brain cells called the salience network decides what to pay _________ to. Since pain can have serious consequences, the pain signal immediately activates the salience _______. Now, you're ______ attention. The brain also responds to the pain and has to cope with these pain signals. So, motor pathways are activated to take your hand off a hot stove, for example. But modulation networks are also _________ that _______ __________ and ___________, chemicals released when you're in pain or during _______ exercise, creating the runner's high. These ________ systems help regulate and reduce pain. All these networks and pathways work together to create your pain experience, to _______ further ______ damage, and help you to cope with pain. This ______ is _______ for everyone, but the sensitivity and efficacy of these brain circuits determines how much you feel and cope with pain. This is why some people have greater pain than others and why some develop chronic pain that does not _______ to treatment, while others respond well. Variability in pain sensitivities is not so different than all _____ of variability in responses to other stimuli. Like how some people love ______ coasters, but other ______ suffer from terrible motion sickness. Why does it matter that there is variability in our pain brain circuits? Well, there are many treatments for pain, targeting different systems. For mild pain, non-prescription medications can act on _____ where the pain signals start. Other stronger pain medicines and anesthetics work by reducing the activity in pain-sensing circuits or boosting our coping system, or endorphins. Some people can cope with pain using _______ that _______ distraction, relaxation, meditation, yoga, or strategies that can be taught, like cognitive behavioral therapy. For some people who suffer from severe chronic pain, that is pain that doesn't go away months after their injury should have healed, none of the regular treatments work. Traditionally, medical science has been about testing treatments on large groups to determine what would help a majority of ________. But this has usually left out some who didn't benefit from the treatment or experienced side effects. Now, new __________ that directly stimulate or block certain pain-sensing attention or modulation networks are being _________, along with ways to tailor them to individual patients, using _____ like ________ resonance imaging to map brain pathways. ________ out how your brain responds to pain is the key to finding the best treatment for you. That's true personalized medicine.

Solution

  1. nerve
  2. activated
  3. experience
  4. kinds
  5. character
  6. roller
  7. chemical
  8. minutes
  9. treatments
  10. signal
  11. endorphins
  12. developed
  13. tissue
  14. attention
  15. information
  16. network
  17. system
  18. similar
  19. prevent
  20. enkephalins
  21. paying
  22. respond
  23. methods
  24. magnetic
  25. patients
  26. cells
  27. handle
  28. tools
  29. deliver
  30. burning
  31. interconnected
  32. tasks
  33. extreme
  34. figuring
  35. people
  36. damage
  37. sharp
  38. brain
  39. involve
  40. received

Original Text

Let's say that it would take you ten minutes to solve this puzzle. How long would it take if you received constant electric shocks to your hands? Longer, right? Because the pain would distract you from the task. Well, maybe not; it depends on how you handle pain. Some people are distracted by pain. It takes them longer to complete a task, and they do it less well. Other people use tasks to distract themselves from pain, and those people actually do the task faster and better when they're in pain than when they're not. Some people can just send their mind wandering to distract themselves from pain. How can different people be subjected to the exact same painful stimulus and yet experience the pain so differently? And why does this matter? First of all, what is pain? Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, associated with actual or potential tissue damage. Pain is something we experience, so it's best measured by what you say it is. Pain has an intensity; you can describe it on a scale from zero, no pain, to ten, the most pain imaginable. But pain also has a character, like sharp, dull, burning, or aching. What exactly creates these perceptions of pain? Well, when you get hurt, special tissue damage-sensing nerve cells, called nociceptors, fire and send signals to the spinal cord and then up to the brain. Processing work gets done by cells called neurons and glia. This is your Grey matter. And brain superhighways carry information as electrical impulses from one area to another. This is your white matter. The superhighway that carries pain information from the spinal cord to the brain is our sensing pathway that ends in the cortex, a part of the brain that decides what to do with the pain signal. Another system of interconnected brain cells called the salience network decides what to pay attention to. Since pain can have serious consequences, the pain signal immediately activates the salience network. Now, you're paying attention. The brain also responds to the pain and has to cope with these pain signals. So, motor pathways are activated to take your hand off a hot stove, for example. But modulation networks are also activated that deliver endorphins and enkephalins, chemicals released when you're in pain or during extreme exercise, creating the runner's high. These chemical systems help regulate and reduce pain. All these networks and pathways work together to create your pain experience, to prevent further tissue damage, and help you to cope with pain. This system is similar for everyone, but the sensitivity and efficacy of these brain circuits determines how much you feel and cope with pain. This is why some people have greater pain than others and why some develop chronic pain that does not respond to treatment, while others respond well. Variability in pain sensitivities is not so different than all kinds of variability in responses to other stimuli. Like how some people love roller coasters, but other people suffer from terrible motion sickness. Why does it matter that there is variability in our pain brain circuits? Well, there are many treatments for pain, targeting different systems. For mild pain, non-prescription medications can act on cells where the pain signals start. Other stronger pain medicines and anesthetics work by reducing the activity in pain-sensing circuits or boosting our coping system, or endorphins. Some people can cope with pain using methods that involve distraction, relaxation, meditation, yoga, or strategies that can be taught, like cognitive behavioral therapy. For some people who suffer from severe chronic pain, that is pain that doesn't go away months after their injury should have healed, none of the regular treatments work. Traditionally, medical science has been about testing treatments on large groups to determine what would help a majority of patients. But this has usually left out some who didn't benefit from the treatment or experienced side effects. Now, new treatments that directly stimulate or block certain pain-sensing attention or modulation networks are being developed, along with ways to tailor them to individual patients, using tools like magnetic resonance imaging to map brain pathways. Figuring out how your brain responds to pain is the key to finding the best treatment for you. That's true personalized medicine.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
spinal cord 2
cells called 2
pain signal 2
salience network 2
pain signals 2
modulation networks 2

Important Words

  1. aching
  2. act
  3. activated
  4. activates
  5. activity
  6. actual
  7. anesthetics
  8. area
  9. attention
  10. behavioral
  11. benefit
  12. block
  13. boosting
  14. brain
  15. burning
  16. called
  17. carries
  18. carry
  19. cells
  20. character
  21. chemical
  22. chemicals
  23. chronic
  24. circuits
  25. coasters
  26. cognitive
  27. complete
  28. consequences
  29. constant
  30. cope
  31. coping
  32. cord
  33. cortex
  34. create
  35. creates
  36. creating
  37. damage
  38. decides
  39. deliver
  40. depends
  41. describe
  42. determine
  43. determines
  44. develop
  45. developed
  46. differently
  47. distract
  48. distracted
  49. distraction
  50. dull
  51. effects
  52. efficacy
  53. electric
  54. electrical
  55. emotional
  56. endorphins
  57. ends
  58. enkephalins
  59. exact
  60. exercise
  61. experience
  62. experienced
  63. extreme
  64. faster
  65. feel
  66. figuring
  67. finding
  68. fire
  69. glia
  70. greater
  71. grey
  72. groups
  73. hand
  74. handle
  75. hands
  76. healed
  77. high
  78. hot
  79. hurt
  80. imaginable
  81. imaging
  82. immediately
  83. impulses
  84. individual
  85. information
  86. injury
  87. interconnected
  88. involve
  89. key
  90. kinds
  91. large
  92. left
  93. long
  94. longer
  95. love
  96. magnetic
  97. majority
  98. map
  99. matter
  100. measured
  101. medical
  102. medications
  103. medicine
  104. medicines
  105. meditation
  106. methods
  107. mild
  108. mind
  109. minutes
  110. modulation
  111. months
  112. motion
  113. motor
  114. nerve
  115. network
  116. networks
  117. neurons
  118. nociceptors
  119. pain
  120. painful
  121. part
  122. pathway
  123. pathways
  124. patients
  125. pay
  126. paying
  127. people
  128. perceptions
  129. personalized
  130. potential
  131. prevent
  132. processing
  133. puzzle
  134. received
  135. reduce
  136. reducing
  137. regular
  138. regulate
  139. relaxation
  140. released
  141. resonance
  142. respond
  143. responds
  144. responses
  145. roller
  146. salience
  147. scale
  148. science
  149. send
  150. sensing
  151. sensitivities
  152. sensitivity
  153. sensory
  154. severe
  155. sharp
  156. shocks
  157. sickness
  158. side
  159. signal
  160. signals
  161. similar
  162. solve
  163. special
  164. spinal
  165. start
  166. stimulate
  167. stimuli
  168. stimulus
  169. stove
  170. strategies
  171. stronger
  172. subjected
  173. suffer
  174. superhighway
  175. superhighways
  176. system
  177. systems
  178. tailor
  179. takes
  180. targeting
  181. task
  182. tasks
  183. taught
  184. ten
  185. terrible
  186. testing
  187. therapy
  188. tissue
  189. tools
  190. traditionally
  191. treatment
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  193. true
  194. unpleasant
  195. variability
  196. wandering
  197. ways
  198. white
  199. work
  200. yoga