AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 1, 2018


Study in Teens Shows That Brain Responses to Rewards are Linked to Pain Sensitivity

Patterns of brain responses to rewards are a significant predictor of pain symptoms—a link that is already present by adolescence—and may be influenced by gene variants affecting pain sensitivity. “Distributed” feedback patterns to rewards predict heightened pain sensitivity, according to the new research led by Frauke Nees, PhD, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany. The researchers write, “Our results might provide a first step early in life in identifying possible risk factors for future pain complaints.” A group of more than 600 European adolescents were studied at two times. At ages 14-15, the teens participated in an experiment in which they could earn rewards—in the form of M&M’s candies—for performing a computer task. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans were performed to examine how the brain processed these rewards. Two years later, the teens were evaluated on a commonly used pain symptom scale.

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Second International Brain Mapping Course
April 26-27, 2018; New Orleans

Surgical Approaches to Skull Base
April 26-28, 2018; St. Louis, MO

2018 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting
April 28-May 2, 2018; New Orleans

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