Seeing is relieving

October 29, 2009

An f1000 evaluation examines how pain relief improves greatly when the sufferer can actually see the area where the pain is occurring.

In an Anglo-Italian study, thirty healthy subjects were invited to look at either their own hand, the experimenter's hand, or an object, while their hand was subjected to laser-induced pain.

The results, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, showed that, when the sufferer could see their own hand, they felt less pain than if they were looking at the experimenter's hand or a neutral object. Longo and colleagues found there were subjective (self-report) and objective (brain potential) measures of the person's pain sensation.

Researchers also found the result was the same whether the subjects were looking at their actual hand or a mirror image; the latter using a technique previously used to reduce phantom limb pain in amputees.

Importantly, this is the first time such an experiment has been done on subjects who did not suffer from pre-existing body image issues.

Faculty of 1000 reviewer Alumit Ishai, of the University of Zurich, was very impressed. "These novel findings suggest that viewing the body modulates the subjective perception of pain," she said. "Although the mechanism that mediates this analgesic effect is unclear ... the potential therapeutic implications for patients with chronic pain are huge."
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Notes to Editors

1 Alumit Ishai, Faculty Member for F1000 Biology, Cognitive Neuroscience Faculty, is a PhD in the Institute of Neuroradiology at the University of Zurich http://f1000biology.com/about/biography/2033190572209602

2 The full text of the evaluation of is available free for 90 days at: http://www.f1000biology.com/article/v8hkmk2c9qkc58j/id/1165244

3 An abstract of the original paper by Longo et al. (Visually Induced Analgesia: Seeing The Body Reduces Pain) is at: http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/abstract/29/39/12125

4 Please name Faculty of 1000 Biology in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the website

5 Faculty of 1000 Biology http://www.f1000biology.com is a unique online service that helps you stay informed of high impact articles and access the opinions of global leaders in biology. Our distinguished international faculty select and evaluate key articles across biology, providing a rapidly updated, authoritative guide to the life science literature that matters

6 Please contact Steve Pogonowski, PR Manager, for a complimentary journalist subscription to Faculty of 1000 http://f1000.com

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