Mouse study: How sound relieves pain

Mouse study: How sound relieves pain

Since the 1960s it has been known that certain sounds and music can relieve stress and pain. Since then, music therapy has been used, among other things, in dentistry and post-operative treatments. A team led by Wenjie Zhou University of Science and Technology of China It is now being studied in rats. Result Published in Science Journal.

quantity is more important

To be able to find out whether music could reduce pain, the experts first obtained a painful inflammatory response in the hind legs of rats. They then exposed the animals to various acoustic stimuli. These included classical music, chaotic vocal sequences and white noise. Music and noise were also used at varying distances and volumes.

It turned out that it was not the type of sound that had an effect on the mice’s perception of pain. The deciding factor was the volume in relation to the ambient noise. If the volume is about five decibels (dB)—the equivalent of a whisper—above noise from the environment, a pain-relieving effect occurs. It lasted for two days after turning off the music and white noise. On the other hand, if the volume was ten, 15 or more decibels higher, this effect did not occur.

The connection between the auditory center and the thalamus

With the help of fluorescent proteins, the researchers visualized regions in the brains of mice that respond to the perception of pain and musical stimuli. They identified neural networks between the auditory center in the rodent’s temporal lobe and Chetak,

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Neurons in the mouse brain that are activated by sounds

The thalamus is a type of stimulus filter in the brain that forwards only the most important information currently to the cerebral cortex (cortex). This includes pain. If the neuronal networks discovered by the researchers are activated by sounds, it reduces the transmission of stimuli related to pain.

Potential for new pain treatments

According to Pain Experts Rohini Kuner And Thomas Kunero from the University of Heidelberg, which publishes the study results in an accompanying Comment – Also in the journal “Science” – the current findings open up new possibilities for pain therapy that are less dangerous than the use of opioids and other painkillers.

“Music and natural sounds have a positive effect on mood, relieve stress and relax the body. It is not unreasonable to think that these factors also relieve pain,” explain Rohini and Thomas Kuner. For human medicine to make an accurate statement, further investigation is necessary, because: “It is still unclear how animals understand music,” the two clarify.

According to study co-author Yuanyuan Liu, human brain imaging showed that regions likely similar to those found in the mouse brain. However, the results of the study should be considered with caution, as Kuner and Kuner emphasize: “Some noises can cause headache-like symptoms or intensify them.” This is also the case with phonophobia – the fear of certain noises – which is common associated with migraines.

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