Sound Helps Provide Pain Relief In Mice, New Study Finds

Sound Helps Provide Pain Relief In Mice, New Study Finds
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An international research team has discovered how sound may alleviate pain in mice. Science reported the results, which might lead to safer ways of treating pain.

In human studies, music and other sounds have been found to help relieve severe and chronic pain, as well as that associated with dental and medical surgery, childbirth, and cancer treatment, as far back as the 1960s However, the exact mechanism by which the brain creates analgesia — a decrease in pain — remained unclear.

Sound reduced pain in mice

Mice with inflamed feet were initially exposed to beautiful classical music, as well as an unpleasant reworking of the same piece. White noise was also used as a control group. When repeated at a low intensity compared to background noise (around the level of a whisper), all three forms of sound inhibited the mice’s ability to feel pain. Animals’ pain reactions were unaffected by increasing the volume of the same noises.

Researchers utilized non-infectious viruses containing fluorescent proteins to map connections between brain areas in order to investigate the brain circuitry that underlies this phenomenon. There is an auditory pathway to the thalamus that receives and interprets sensory signals, particularly pain, from the body and transmits them to the brain’s limbic system. Low-intensity white noise lowered the activity of neurons at the thalamic receiving end of the circuit in free-moving mice, according to this study.

Light and tiny molecules mirrored low-intensity noise’s pain-blurring effects, but switching on the route reinstated the animals’ sensitivity to pain when the pathway was suppressed in the absence of sound.

In humans, it isn’t obvious whether the same brain mechanisms are engaged, or if other qualities of sound, such as its perceptual rhythm or pleasantness, are crucial. In the long run, this might lead to the creation of safer options to opioids for the treatment of pain in people, based on the results in animals.


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Anna Daniels

Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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