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Brain Training Puts Big Hurt on Intense Pain: Volunteers learn to translate imaging data into neural-control tool

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1:45pm, December 14, 2005

Preliminary evidence indicates that people can quell either temporary or chronic physical pain by learning to use their minds to reduce activity in a key brain area.

Brain-imaging technology now enables individuals to use mental exercises to control a neural region that contributes to pain perception, say neuroscientist Sean C. Mackey of Stanford University and his colleagues.

Both healthy volunteers and chronic-pain patients "learned to control their brains and, through that, their pain," Mackey holds. "However, significantly more testing must be done before this can be considered a treatment for chronic pain."

The new findings appear in the Dec. 20 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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