This is Scientific American — 60-Second Science. I'm Karen Hopkin.
Pain. It's unpleasant. But what if pain could be rendered less...painful...emotionally speaking? Such uncoupling might not be entirely farfetched. Because researchers have located a set of neurons that seem to encode the feelings of hurt that accompany pain.
"Pain is both a sensory and emotional experience."
Grégory Scherrer, a pain expert at Stanford University.
"Much of the research so far has focused on the sensory aspect of pain perception. And in particular how cells in our nerves are able to detect the stimuli that we perceive as painful."
But less is known about why most of us find pain so distressing.
So Scherrer and his colleagues set out to first identify those brain cells that are active when an animal experiences pain. The researchers used a miniature microscope to look at the brains of living mice. That technology was developed by Mark Schnitzer, who does neuroscience and applied physics at Stanford.
"This microscope is small and light enough that it can be worn on the head of an adult mouse as the animal behaves in a natural manner."
When these microscope-wearing mice were poked with a pin or exposed to mild heat or cold, cells in a subregion of their amygdalas lit up.
"So this indicated that there's a particular type of cell in a given region of the brain that seemed to specifically encode the percept of pain."
But are these cells responsible for sensing pain...or interpreting the sensation? To find out, the researchers shut the cells down. And they poked the animals again.
"So when we did that, what we observed is that while animals were still withdrawing from the stimulus, indicating that they could detect it, so the sensation aspect of pain was intact, they didn't seem to care about the stimulus."
That is, they didn't make any effort to avoid the place where they experienced the discomfort...which is how mice usually react to pain. The findings are in the journal Science.
A future part of treating pain could therefore involve targeting these particular neurons. You'd still have the physical part of the pain. But the negative perception of the pain could be diminished. Which means: still pain, but also gain.
Thanks for listening for Scientific American — 60-Second Science. I'm Karen Hopkin.
疼痛 。这是令人不愉快的感受 。但如果疼痛可以少一些感觉方面的痛苦，那会怎样呢？这种分离可能并不完全牵强 。因为研究人员已经找到了一组神经元，这些神经元似乎能为伴随疼痛而来的痛苦感受进行编码 。
“到目前为止，大多数研究都集中在疼痛感知的感觉方面 。尤其是我们神经中的细胞是如何探测到我们视为痛苦的刺激 。”
因此，谢瑞及其同事首先开始着手确定在动物经历疼痛时活跃的脑细胞有哪些 。研究人员用显微镜观察活体老鼠的大脑 。这项技术由斯坦福大学从事神经科学和应用物理学研究的马克·施尼策研发 。
但这些细胞是否负责感知疼痛或解释这种感觉？为了寻找答案，研究人员关闭了这些细胞 。然后他们再次用针戳老鼠 。
也就是说，老鼠没有做出任何努力去避开让它们经历不适的地方，而避开是老鼠通常会对疼痛作出的反应 。这项研究结果发表在《科学》期刊上 。
因此，未来治疗疼痛的策略可能包括针对这些特定的神经元 。你仍然会有身体上的疼痛 。但疼痛所引起的负面感受可能会减弱 。这意味着：疼痛仍有，但收获亦有 。
谢谢大家收听科学美国人——60秒科学 。我是凯伦·霍普金 。
1. set out to do sth. 开始；着手；
He has achieved what he set out to do three years ago.
2. be exposed to do sth. 使暴露于（险境）；使遭受（危险或不快）；
This part of the west coast of Scotland i s very ex posed to Atlantic winds.
3. care about 关心；在乎；在意；
They were tuned in to their own needs and didn't care about the feelings of other people.
4. react to （作出）反应；回应；
Someone allergic to milk is likely to react to cheese.