A new neurofeedback strategy to treat pain

A novel neurofeedback treatment may help to treat chronic pain in the future, says recent research in Current Biology.

Chronic pain is a world-wide issue, especially as more people are living for longer. Drugs tend to have side effects so experts are looking at other solutions.

Decoded Neurofeedback (DecNef) aims to help people control how information is encoded in their brain using neurofeedback of their brain activity measured using functional neuroimaging. This means people are trained to regulate their brain activation pattern in a specific area.

In the new study, volunteers had to try and make the pain “clearer” in their mind, to help a computer read how much pain they were in by studying their brain activity. If the computer could read their pain well, it could work out how to give them less pain later in the experiment.

“People were not easily able to directly control the pain activity in the brain,” the experts explain. “But the process seemed to boost the brains’ natural ability to control pain by enhancing the ‘endogenous pain control system’. This is the system that normally tunes how much pain is felt, and allows us to naturally reduce our pain in a wide variety of everyday situations. Importantly, this system seems to be dysfunctional in chronic pain, and so DecNef might provide a way to boost this system to treat pain.”

Click here to read the original findings.

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