Virtual Reality May Distract the Brain from Pain

Researchers have since long been working on harnessing computers' processing power in various different ways to aid in finding cure for diseases. From generating strings of protein sequences to simulation of biological trends and now to Virtual Reality. Could this hold high potential to better human life? Or is this a conspiracy to lure people into the Matrix? May be not, but certainly one I wouldn't mind volunteering for. Read on...

A trip into virtual reality may literally take a person's mind off the pain of a medical procedure, a new study shows.

Scientists found that slipping into a computer-generated world not only lessened how much pain volunteers felt during an uncomfortable procedure, it also dampened activity in the brain's pain centers.

The findings provide the first objective evidence that virtual reality can act as an analgesic by "distracting" the brain from processing pain signals from the body, study co-author Dr. Hunter G. Hoffman told Reuters Health.

Hoffman, who directs the Virtual Reality Analgesia Research Center at the University of Washington in Seattle, and his colleagues had previously found that patients immersed in virtual reality report far less discomfort during painful medical procedures.

The new findings, published in the journal NeuroReport, show the benefit is not just a matter of perception, but of actual changes in the brain's pain-related activity.

Virtual reality, by drawing a person into another world, "drains conscious attention" away from processing pain signals, Hoffman explained.

News source: ABCNews - Complete Article

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