Pain – is it all in the mind?

Date: Saturday, 11th April, 2015,6pm

Venue: Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown

Speakers: Javier Moscoso, Vania Apkarian

Pain is a complex neurological phenomenon, involving a highly intricate web of biological, psychological, and social mechanisms. Although most of us view it as an unpleasant experience to be avoided at all cost, pain is actually an essential mechanism for our survival. Individuals born with congenital insensitivity to pain usually have many serious health problems and are likely to die young, since they continue to walk on a broken leg or do not feel the pain of an appendicitis.

Although pain is a universal experience and an important chronic health problem, our individual responses to it are unique. The very definition of pain poses challenges to the scientific and medical community. How do our brains experience pain? How do we communicate and measure it? How does our culture and personal history change the way we experience painful stimuli?

On Saturday, April 11th, at 6pm, we will explore the importance and plasticity of pain experience and try to answer some of these questions. Javier Moscoso, a Research Professor of History and Philosophy, will explain the historical and cultural perspectives of pain and how they changed the way we perceived it and communicate it. Vania Apkarian, a renowned neuroscientist, will share his most recent work on uncovering of brain mechanisms underlying pain, in both animal models and fMRI studies in humans. Following these two talks, a round table will be held to promote further discussion moderated by Duarte Correia, President of the Portuguese Association for the study of Pain.

Join us in our attempt to tackle the cultural and scientific challenges of Pain.



Marta Camacho works at the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme studying hedonic response in clinical groups and at the Champalimaud Clinical Center as a neuropsychologist.




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