To address the question in this fourth neuroscience video, the first thing we have to do is understand how pain is generated in our body and what its function is.
Throughout our body we have nociceptors , which are nerve receptors that are activated by certain stimuli such as sudden changes in pressure (blows), temperature (burns), certain substances and ultimately any stimulus that is potentially harmful to our cells. The activation of these nociceptors produces a nerve signal that reaches the brain areas responsible for managing pain: when these areas are activated is when we feel pain.
However, there is a rare disease called congenital insensitivity to pain (there are about 50 documented cases of it), in which the nerve signals from the nociceptors do not reach the brain adequately, do not activate the brain areas of pain, and as a consequence this people are unable to feel pain. This, although it might seem like an advantage at first, is a serious problem since pain plays a key protective role in our survival.
Children with this disease tend to self-examine their wounds, aggravating the injuries, or bite their lips / nails until they generate wounds; and even as adults these people have great trouble noticing whether they have been burned, beaten, etc. So they have to be careful with the activities they do.
So, paradoxically, not feeling pain means having a lower quality of life than perceiving it normally.
Did you like it? Here you can see all the chapters of the Neurocosas series.
Directed and presented by Pablo Barrecheguren (@pjbarrecheguren), Neurocosas is a scientific dissemination project carried out by Big Van, Scientists on Wheels and Very Interesting, financed with the help of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT).