May 14, 2012
Last month, the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) held a symposium entitled The Pharmacology of Aging: Why Age Matters. Biomarker Center of Excellence Neuroscience Therapeutic Area Lead Robert Martone attended the event and was impressed by recent research focusing on pain as a potential risk factor for brain and cognitive aging.
In a short review on pain and the prognosis for dementia, Mr. Martone highlights several studies that demonstrate a linkage between pain and attention, and between attention and dementia:
"Pain is a complex and highly subjective experience, and it is unclear precisely how pain interferes with cognition. Previous studies suggest that pain modulates attention, which is necessary for both cognition and pain perception. In another report, treatment of chronic pain was observed to improve cognition and reverse brain abnormalities, in this case the thinning of certain areas of the prefrontal cortex. Dementia patients are typically under-treated for pain, and there was once debate regarding whether dementia patients experience pain in the same manner as non-demented subjects."
The full review with citations is posted at Neuroscience Commons: Pain and the prognosis for dementia.