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Pain or Touch: what travels faster?

Here’s a trick question for you. Which of these two travels faster? Sensation of pain or sensation of touch?

The answer is they both travel at the same speed.

It may sound like an easy question to answer, but it was one that was subject of cutting-edge research at the UK-based Liverpool John Moore University.

This is an important question because it turns tables on the existing knowledge that touch is more quickly detected by the brain than pain is. The theory was that touch signals are relayed by ‘fast’ nerves and pain signals by ‘slow ones’. This new knowledge will give lead to development of new models of pain, which will ultimately result in more effective pain killers.

So how did the researchers arrive at this conclusion?

They used a technique called microneurography to record nerve signals from single nerve cells in awake human participants. The imagery from this technique showed that we humans are equipped with ultrafast ‘pain’ neurons (nociceptors) that signal as fast as touch nerves that have a thick layer of myelin (a type of coating found on nerve cells that helps nerves transmit signals). They then tested patient groups with rare neurological deficits and found that this corroborated the role of this system in pain perception.

Liverpool John Moore University is a leading UK university located in the dynamic port city of Liverpool. Liverpool has a rich history and was the birthplace of The Beatles, in addition to being the home of Liverpool F.C., a major contender in both domestic and international football tournaments. It is vibrant seas-side city located in the north of England (just around 2 hours away from London by train) and has world-class museums, shops and restaurants and entertainment venues.

The University ranks among top 150 young universities in the world, according to Times Higher Education Ranking 2019. LJMU has also been awarded Silver rating by the UK government for its facilities, teaching quality and graduate employability rate. What’s more, some of the courses even allow to undertake a paid placement as part of the programme!

Some of the popular courses at LJMU are:

  • MSc Pharmaceutical Manufacture and Quality
  • MSc Industrial Biotechnology
  • BSc Biochemistry
  • MSc International Business and Management

Applications are still open for multiple intakes in 2019 in the UK and other countries. So, what are you waiting for? Head to your nearest STORM office to find out more and start applying! While you’re at it, don’t forget to download STORM app from Google Play or Apple store to keep on top of latest news and developments, courses and scholarships and get to speak to current students studying abroad and win cool prizes!