Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Listen to Irene Tracey discussing her work on pain at the Wellcome Collection/BBC World Service 'Exchanges at the Frontier' series

Claudia Hammond hosts this event which was recorded live at the Wellcome Collection in December 2015. 

Professor Irene Tracey and her team at the University of Oxford have spent close to 18 years using advanced neuroimaging techniques to explore the human brain and spinal cord responses when people experience pain, relief and pleasure. 

In this audience discussion, she talks about the distinction between good, healthy acute pain, and chronic pain, when the system goes wrong. One in five people have chronic pain, and it has come to be seen as a disease in its own right, with new drugs in the pipeline. 

Irene and her group have been finding out more about why people have different pain experiences, by looking at the differing ways in which their central nervous systems are wired up. They have also done experiments which have essentially proved that you 'get the pain you expect' - so if you're anxious it will actually hurt more.

The discussion concludes by touching on Irene's latest work, which is looking at how to personalise the amount of anaesthetic a patient will need in order to be in the best state for major surgery. This pioneering work may help us eventually to understand much more about perception and altered states of consciousness.

Listen online...

Similar stories

Finding out more about Parkinson’s by monitoring symptoms at home

Professor Chrystalina Antoniades explains how the COVID pandemic accelerated an innovation in one research project into Parkinson's Disease.

Insights into the molecular pathways of progressive multiple sclerosis

Text by Ian Fyfe for 'Nature Reviews Neurology'

Discovery of gene involved in chronic pain creates new treatment target

Our researchers have discovered a gene that regulates pain sensitisation by amplifying pain signals within the spinal cord. This is helping them to understand an important mechanism underlying chronic pain in humans, and provides a new treatment target.

Lymph nodes reveal more about mechanisms of autoimmunity

Two recent papers show that studying lymph nodes reveals details of the mechanisms of autoimmunity.

Multiple heart-related conditions linked to triple dementia risk, regardless of genetics

Having multiple conditions that affect the heart is linked to a greater risk of dementia than having high genetic risk, according to a large-scale new study.

NDCN research presented at Myasthenia Gravis conference

The 14th Quinquennial Myasthenia Gravis Federation of America International Conference was recently held in Miami with 450 delegates attending in person, including over 100 from industry.