Pain reduction & anaesthesia
London science museum "painless exhibition" blog highlights the effects of anaesthesia in pain relief and how the brain operates in an unconscious state. Using brain research tools can show which areas of the brain are affected by different anaesthetics. With fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), for example, a scanner shows brain activity in 3D. On the other hand, when an EEG (electroencephalogram) is recorded, non-invasive electrodes are stuck onto the scalp to measure electrical activity on the brain surface.
Jackie Andrade, Professor of Psychology has demonstrated that the brain does detect stimulus when unconscious and can form partial implicit memories. She noted that this information was supported by FMRI scans showing the activity in the sensory cortex part of the brain. She also stated that some patients after undergoing surgery could suffer PTSD due to implicit memories created when unconscious. Professor Jackie also thought that saying positive statements when the patient is unconscious would allow them to feel relaxed and comfortable if they were to recall the incident.
The research also touches on the use of different drugs and how dr's can see different brain patterning on FMRI's due to the different drugs they administer for pain relief. Emery Brown from the department of anaesthesia in Massachusetts General hospital recommends all anaesthetists to be schooled in understanding certain reactions in the cortex to see if the patient is susceptible to implicit memories.
Hynotherapy & pain management
FMRI were used to measure the effects of hypnosis on the brain and found that patients fell into a state far further than deep sleep. The experiment was conducted in 2006 by John Gruzelier, a psychologist at Imperial College in London who wanted to find out the effects of hypnosis on the brain through FMRI scanning.
Peter Naish, at the UK's Open University, said that this study moves the understanding of hypnosis away from the popular misconceptions created by showy stage hypnotists.
We have a technique that has now moved towards evidence-based treatments," he says. "Gruzelier's work is showing for sure that the brain is doing quite different things under hypnosis than in normal everyday existence."
Patients under hypnosis felt far less pain
Clinical trials of therapeutic hypnosis are starting to confirm its potential benefits. Christina Liossi, a psychologist at the University of Wales in Swansea, recently conducted a study of 80 cancer patients aged 6 to 16.
She found that those under hypnosis experienced far less pain during treatments than control children, who simply talked to the researchers normally.
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