Chronic Abdominal Pain Found to Be Linked to Brain Functioning

Chronic Abdominal Pain Found to Be Linked to Brain Functioning
In a recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, a research team reported that gastrointestinal disorders are associated with psychological dysfunctions and can be justified by a failure of communication between the brain and the bowel. According to the team, gastrointestinal disorders causing abdominal pain are associated with central sensitization and psychopathologies that are often exacerbated by stress. Visceral pain is a symptom of many gastrointestinal disorders including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome, although in most cases, the cause is unknown. In the study entitled “Behavioral and molecular processing of visceral pain in the brain of mice: impact of colitis and psychological stress,” Dr. Peter Holzer and colleagues examined the impact of chronic inflammatory abdominal pain on social behavior and the brain's functioning. Using mice, the researchers found brain changes associating pain to emotions and memory. The research team looked at two important aspects, pain sensitivity and stress, and the study results showed that colitis increases pain sensitivity and impacts the brain, which then influences the social behavior of the affected subjects, leading, for example, to social withdrawal or anxiety disorders. "Behavioral changes caused by colitis are reflected in the limbic system and the connected regions of the cortex," Dr. Holzer explained in a
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