Scientists have taken a big step toward using brain scans to tell when people are in pain. For the first time, researchers used patterns from brain images to predict and measure how much pain people were in and tell when a drug was relieving it.
The work is in an early stage but has huge potential. Someday it might help tell when pain is hurting a baby, people with dementia or someone paralyzed and unable to talk.
So far the research only involves pain felt through the skin, in experiments where heat was applied to an arm. Scientists now must study more common kinds of pain such as headaches and chronic back problems.
Results of the federally funded study are in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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