Pain is much more complicated than getting a nasty cut on your knee. In this episode of Human, Patrick breaks down how your body feels pain on a physiological level.
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In 1811 a surgeon named Charles Bell attempted to answer that question. His idea was that specific nerve fibers send pain signals back to the brain, just like how any other sensory fibers like vision or smell send signals to the brain. We call this specificity theory today. And experiments by physiologists in the years afterwards seemed to back him up.
Scientists identified specific receptors for all kinds of different sensations — including loads of different touch receptors embedded in your skin. Like Meissner’s corpuscles are stimulated when something textured moves over our fingertips.
And those are different than Pacinian corpuscles which only sense signals for fine textures and high frequency vibration or how Merkel’s discs help us determine things like pressure while Ruffini corpuscles are probably responsible for sensing stretching in your skin. These four types of receptors all sense mechanical touch, so we call them mechanoreceptors.
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“The underlying foundations of pain perception (and its processing) represent a field of study that has interested researchers for centuries. Throughout the history of medicine, several theories have been proposed to explain why and how individuals feel the pain they feel.”
Why the sexes don’t feel pain the same wayhttps://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00895-3
“After decades of assuming that pain processing is equivalent in all sexes, scientists are finding that different biological pathways can produce an ‘ouch!’.”
Nociceptors: the sensors of the pain pathwayhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2964977/
“Current work in this field is providing researchers with a more thorough understanding of nociceptor cell biology at molecular and systems levels and insight that will allow the targeted design of novel pain therapeutics.”
This Seeker health series will dive deep into the cellular structures, human systems, and overall anatomy that work together to keep our bodies going. Using the visual structure and quick pacing of Seeker’s Sick series, these human bio-focused episodes will give a new audience an inside look on what’s happening inside all of us.
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