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.

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

Attention and memory deficits persist for months after recovery from mild COVID

Researchers from Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences and Department of Experimental Psychology have shown that people who have had COVID but don’t complain of long COVID symptoms in daily life nevertheless can show degraded attention and memory for up to six to nine months.

New Academic Visitor from Nigeria

Associate Professor of Radiology, Godwin Ogbole has arrived on a six-month visit to the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, as part of the Africa Oxford Initiative.

New spinout company: Human-Centric Drug Discovery

Human-Centric Drug Discovery is a new Oxford University spinout company from Professor Zameel Cader's lab.

Funding received for research into Motor Neuron Disease

A £210,000 donation from the Alan Davidson Foundation has been made to our Department to advance our world-leading research into Motor Neuron Disease. The funding will support a project manager to deliver an innovative research project using the genetic causes of MND to develop approaches to early diagnosis.

New Year's Honours for Professor Irene Tracey

Professor Irene Tracey FMedSci, MAE, Professor of Anaesthetic Neuroscience and Warden of Merton College, has been appointed CBE for services to medical research.

Research finds drug may benefit some patients hospitalised with COVID-19 pneumonia

A proof-of-concept trial involving Oxford researchers has identified a drug that may benefit some patients hospitalised with COVID-19 pneumonia.