As journalist Nicola Twilley writes, "[f]or scientists, pain has long presented an intractable problem: it is a physiological process, just like breathing or digestion, and yet it is inherently, stubbornly subjective--only you feel your pain." In this recent article by The New Yorker, which appeared in the July 2 print edition of the magazine, Twilley investigates what the growing field of neuroscience may be able to tell us about the role our brains play in the experience of pain. Twilley met with Dr. Irene Tracey, who heads Oxford University's Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience. Tracey has dedicated her career to studying pain and she currently heads the Pain Analgesia/Anaesthesia Imaging Neuroscience (P.A.I.N.) group, a multidisciplinary team of scientists dedicated to understanding the science of pain. For the past several decades, Tracey has been investigating what areas of the brain respond to pain with the aid of a functional magnetic resonance imagery (FMRI) machine. For this article, Twilley describes the experience of viewing her own brain's response to pain. Twilley also traces the history of pain research in the nineteenth and twentieth century and considers the potential legal and medical implication of this new and emerging research about the neuroscience of pain.
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