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.