Headaches are one of the most common health complaints among people in the UK. Sufferers rate their experience of head and facial pain as more severe and having a more emotional toll than pain experienced elsewhere in the body. This emotional response has yet to be explained and so researchers looked into possible underlying reasons. When tracking neuronal activity in the brains of mice, they found that sensory nerves from the head and face (pictured in green) feed into the amygdala – a part of the brain responsible for processing emotions – via another brain area called the parabrachial nucleus (PBL, pictured in pink). They also saw that irritating the face led to higher activity in the PBL, and therefore heightened emotions. This insight will not only aid understanding of head and facial pain, but also help to create targeted treatments.
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