Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The brains of babies 'light up' in a very similar way to adults when exposed to the same painful stimulus, a pioneering Oxford University brain scanning study has discovered. It suggests that babies experience pain much like adults.

Babies and adults show similar patterns of pain related brain activity
The infants in the study were ‘poked’ on the bottom of one foot with a special retracting rod simulating a sensation of pain that could then be studied using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The rod never broke the skin.

The study looked at 10 healthy infants aged between one and six days old and 10 healthy adults aged 23-36 years. Infants were recruited from the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, and adult volunteers were Oxford University staff or students.

During the research babies, accompanied by parents and clinical staff, were placed in a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner where they usually fell asleep. MRI scans were then taken of the babies' brains as they were 'poked' on the bottom of their feet with a special retracting rod creating a sensation 'like being poked with a pencil' – mild enough that it did not wake them up. These scans were then compared with brain scans of adults exposed to the same pain stimulus.

Read more on the University of Oxford website...

Media coverage: