By Pat Anson, Editor
People who are born blind experience pain differently than sighted individuals and are hypersensitive to pain caused by hot or cold stimulation, according to a small study by researchers in Europe.
The results indicate that congenitally blind people are more attentive and more sensitive to external threats — suggesting their brains are “rewired” by their disability. The study is being published in the journal PAIN.
“We have shown that the absence of vision from birth induces a hypersensitivity to painful stimuli, lending new support to a model of sensory integration of vision and pain processing,” says lead investigator Ron Kupers, Director of the BRAINlab, Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
The findings are important because a key biological function of acute pain is to prevent bodily injury. Vision plays a critical role, as it allows a person to immediately detect and avoid potentially hazardous situations.
Previous studies conducted in sighted individuals had already demonstrated the link between vision and pain perception. The research team hypothesized that the absence of visual cues may lead to heightened vigilance for painful stimuli.
Read more at National Pain Report.
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