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Light: A Window to Pain in the Brain?

  • Broadcast in Health
Sharing knowledge from experts

Sharing knowledge from experts


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Why do people with fibromyalgia (FM) avoid bright lights and watching TV in the dark? Does light sensitivity (photophobia) affect the brains of people with FM? To help discover answers to these question, the "Light: A Window to Pain in the Brain" study is designed to unmask the brain changes that may be key to the development and progression of chronic pain. 

Pain Chat's guest, clinical researcher and expert on FM Dr. Kim Jones, answers questions about the new study. Recently, researchers found that FM patients are more light sensitive than healthy counterparts, which may be related to activation of their brain’s pain-sensitive regions. Researchers at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) plan to use an advanced type of imaging called functional MRI (fMRI) to see if light produces changes in brain pain centers of people with FM but not in healthy controls. 

Pain is defined as a sensory experience from injury to bodily tissue. Understanding of acute pain is relatively advanced while chronic pain is not. Chronic pain is  now recognized as a “changed brain state.” OHSU’s study is a step towards a practical biomarker that might identify central sensitization and lead to  treatments. In centralized pain, abnormal sensitivity to non-injurious peripheral stimuli can be experienced as pain. For people with FM, noise is louder, light is brighter and even a gentle touch can be painful.

All associated researchers are donating their time to this study and have asked for community help to cover time using the fMRI ($12,000: $1,000 per participant). A unique opportunity to directly support FM research with 100% of your tax-deductible donation at Consano.