Babies distinguish pain from touch at 35-37 weeks
Babies can distinguish painful stimuli as different from general touch from around 35-37 weeks gestation just before an infant would normally be born according to new research.
In a study published online in the journal Current Biology, scientists show that neural activity in the brain gradually changes from an immature state to a more adult-like state from 35 weeks of development. This change may indicate that neural circuitry allows babies to process pain as a separate sensation from touch.
Dr Rebeccah Slater, UCL Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, said: "Premature babies who are younger than 35 weeks have similar brain responses when they experience touch or pain. After this time there is a gradual change, rather than a sudden shift, when the brain starts to process the two types of stimuli in a distinct manner."
Scientists looked at the brain activity of 46 babies at the University College Hospital Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Wing. 21 babies in the study were born prematurely, giving scientists the opportunity to measure activity at different stages of human brain development, from babies at just 28 weeks of development through to those born 'full term' at 37 weeks.
Using electroencephalography (EEG), the scientists measured the babies' electrical brain activity when they were undergoing a routine heel lance a standard procedure essential to collect blood samples for clinical use.
In the premature babies the EEG recorded a response to the heel lance of non-specific 'neuronal bursts' general bursts of electrical activity in the brain. After 35-37 weeks the babies' response changed to localised activity in specific areas of the brain, indicating that they were now perceiving painful stimulation as separate to touch.
Dr Lorenzo Fabrizi, lead author of the paper from UCL Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, said: "We are asking a fundamental question about human development in this study when do babies start to distinguish between sensations? In very young brains all stimulations are followed by 'bursts' of activity, but at a critical time in development babies start to respond with activity specific to the type of stimulation."
Dr Fabrizi added: "Of course, babies cannot tell us how they feel, so it is impossible to know what babies actually experience. We cannot say that before this change in brain activity they don't feel pain."
Previous studies have shown that there is a similar shift from neuronal bursts to evoked potentials in the visual system at this time, suggesting that 35-37 weeks is a time when important neural connections are formed between different parts of the brain.
Dr Slater said: "It is important to understand how the human brain develops so that we can provide the best clinical care for hospitalised infants."
Provided by University College London
- Premature babies become more sensitive to pain in later life May 10, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Study: Prematurely born babies feel pain Apr 06, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- Pretermers bounce back from pain with a cuddle Apr 24, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Study of babies' brain scans sheds new light on the brain's unconscious activity and how it develops Nov 01, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Discovery may bring special treatment for male babies Mar 25, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
11 hours ago As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
(HealthDay)—Migraines and depression can each cause a great deal of suffering, but new research indicates the combination of the two may be linked to something else entirely—a smaller brain.
Neuroscience 2 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Moving objects attract greater attention – a fact exploited by video screens in public spaces and animated advertising banners on the Internet. For most animal species, moving objects also play a major ...
Neuroscience 5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
It is known that signs of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease can appear years before the disease becomes manifest; these signs take the form of subtle changes in the brain and behavior of ...
Neuroscience 5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Scientists have reversed behavioral and brain abnormalities in adult mice that resemble some features of schizophrenia by restoring normal expression to a suspect gene that is over-expressed in humans with ...
Neuroscience 6 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have unraveled the molecular foundations of cocaine's effects on the brain, and identified a compound that blocks cravings for the drug in cocaine-addicted mice. The compound, already proven safe ...
Neuroscience 6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(HealthDay)—For HIV-infected individuals with recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, fecal microbiota therapy is feasible, according to a letter published in the May 21 issue of the Annals of Intern ...
30 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—A federal panel of medical experts says that an experimental insomnia drug from Merck & Co Inc. appears safe and effective, despite evidence from company trials that the pill can cause daytime sleepiness and difficulty ...
41 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—Implementation of systematic monitoring for medication adherence will allow for identification of barriers to adherence and tailoring of interventions, according to a viewpoint piece published ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion—the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior.
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 1 |
Swiss scientists reveal the mechanism responsible for aging hidden deep within mitochondria—and dramatically slow it down in worms by administering antibiotics to the young.
5 hours ago | 4.5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
A new approach for immunizing against influenza elicited a more potent immune response and broader protection than the currently licensed seasonal influenza vaccines when tested in mice and ferrets. The vaccine ...
3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |