A biological enigma: the meaning of pain -- How much it hurts, measuring pain -- Sensing pain: nociceptors -- The enchanted loom: pain networks -- Pain dynamics: sensitization -- I feel your pain: perception and the brain -- A certain gut feeling: visceral pain -- A mere curse: neuropathic pain -- Sex, genes and stress: pain modulation -- A pain free world: curing pain.
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Cervero explores the mechanisms and the meaning of pain. You touch something hot and your brain triggers a reflex action that causes you to withdraw your hand. That kind of pain is actually good for us; it acts as an alarm that warns us of danger and keeps us away from harm. There is another kind of pain that is more like a curse: chronic pain that is not related to injury. Cervero describes current research into the mysteries of chronic pain and efforts to develop more effective treatments.