Or pressure. Or temperature (hot and cold, separately). Or vibration (both high- and low-frequency)." (Hancock, 1995) All over the surface f the skin are receptors that report warmth and there are others that report cold. Several types of nerves exist that have the ability to sense "cold, warmth pressure, pain, and more. The nerves that sense and transmit pain are called nociceptors. Nociceptors transmit electrical signals to your spinal column. In the spinal cord, electrical pain signals causes a release of chemicals which are called neurotransmitters, which activate other nerve cells that process and transmit the information to the brain. Important decisions occur in the spinal column: Acute pain like that from touching a hot surface raises a red flag and is routed to the brain immediately.. "The larger fibers convey electrical impulses very rapidly to the brain, and are thought to cause sharp pricking pain, while the very fine fibers cause ongoing burning, very unpleasant sometimes called 'unbearable' pain" because of its persistence." (Hancock, 1995)
Pain signals are process in the brain's thalamus, a sort of switching station. The thalamus forwards the message to three places:
1) Somatosensory cortex (physical sensation);
2) Limbic system (emotional feeling); and 3) Frontal cortex (limbic system) (Hancock, 1995)
The following figure is a flowchart demonstrating the processes of the body and brain at work at the time of a burn.
FLOWCHART FOR BODY AND BRAIN PROCESS AT THE TIME HAND IS BURNED ON STOVE
At the time...
The brain has signaled the skin, the muscles and the bones that an injury has occurred to the hand that is burned and the burned hand signals the pain back to the brain.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
The spinal column and the brain of the human body act as the control center for the entire body sending and receiving signals from the control center to different areas of the body and then receiving the reports back from the body. While it is easy to take for granted the wonderful and amazing response mechanism built into the body to signal hot or cold, pleasure or pain, understanding the anatomy, function, physiology and biology of these nerves, receptors and the brain/control center is a vital aspect in understanding the body's protective mechanisms.
DeSanti, Leslie (2005) Pathophysiology and Current Management of Burn Injury Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc. Volume 18(6), July/August 2005, pp 323-332
Hancock, Elise (1995) The Handy Guide to Touch - April 1995. Online available at http://www.jhu.edu/~jhumag/495web/touch.html.
Kane, Daniel (2004) Feb 19 How Your Brain Handles Love and Pain MSNBC Online available at http://www.sciam.com/search/index.cfm?QT=Q&SCC=Q&Q=burns%3A+skin+receptors.
Britt, Robert Roy (2006) The Pain Truth: How and Why We Hurt - Health Sci-Tech 31 January 2006 Live Science Online available at http://aolsearch.aol.com/aol/search?query=signals+to+brain+from+burn&page=4&nt=SG1_S I0&userid=-7493026336042476887&invocationType=topsearchbox.search&c lickstreamid=-7493026336042476889
Biology Scenario: Hand Burned on Hot Stove
Hand touches Hot Stove
Heat Receptors send Signal to the Brain
Pain signals processed in the brain's thalmas and these messages are forwarded to three places
Somatosensory cortex (physical sensation
Limbic system (emotional feeling)
Front cortex (limbic system)
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