Tag: pain

Popular Scientist: Johns Hopkins Neuroscientist David Linden Explains the Brain Science Behind Hand, Heart, and Mind


David Linden

Neuroscientist David Linden divides his time between a lab full of mice and post-doctoral students at the Johns Hopkins medical campus and a writing desk in his secret hideaway of a house, located on a wooded lane in a secluded part of North Baltimore. From there, he has produced three hugely successful books about the brain: “The Accidental Mind,” “The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good” and new this month, “Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind.”

This Week in Research: The Pain + Blame Edition


In this series, we look at the newest findings coming out of our area’s top research universities. We’ve got some great minds in Baltimore — let’s learn what they’re learning!

Chronic pain is the sort of thing that follows sufferers around all day, always tapping them on the shoulder to remind them of its presence:  Hey, I’m here, you hurt, you’re miserable! So telling these people that ignoring their pain will make them feel better may sound absurd at first.  The thing is:  it just might work.

Johns Hopkins researchers in psychiatry and behavioral sciences just published a study that explores the vicious cycle of chronic pain. Essentially, researchers say, dwelling on the pain disturbs sleep; less sleep equals more pain… and the cycle begins again. And a lot of that misery is going on inside the patient’s head — which is not the same as saying that it doesn’t exist. Studies have shown that focusing on pain (especially dwelling on it in a negative way) makes pain feel worse; doctors call this “pain catastrophizing.” And messing with sleep patterns has also been shown to make people more sensitive to pain.

So what’s to be done? The researchers suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy, a treatment that tries to uproot entrenched thinking patterns, may help disrupt the vicious cycle of pain-sleep disturbance-more pain — without (or as a complement to) medication. “It may sound simple, but you can change the way you feel by changing the way you think,” said Luis Buenaver, the lead researcher on the study.