News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.

Mission

The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

Common Brain Mechanisms of Chronic Pain and Addiction

By Igor Elman and David Borsook | Neuron | January 6, 2016

Abstract: 

While chronic pain is considered by some to be a CNS disease, little is understood about underlying neurobiological mechanisms. Addiction models have heuristic value in this regard, because both pain and addictive disorders are characterized by impaired hedonic capacity, compulsive drug seeking, and high stress. In drug addiction such symptomatology has been attributed to reward deficiency, impaired inhibitory control, incentive sensitization, aberrant learning, and anti-reward allostatic neuroadaptations. Here we propose that similar neuroadaptations exist in chronic pain patients.

Read the rest of the paper here.

Who Has a Right to Pain Relief?

By Rebecca Davis O’Brien | The Atlantic | August 18, 2014

“Pain has become our fifth vital sign.” Speaking last fall at a New Jersey symposium on pain management called “Do No Harm,” the chairman of emergency services at Hackensack University Medical Center said what his audience of doctors and nurses hardly needed to be told. We are all familiar with the medical routine: The thermometer beeps, the blood pressure gauge sighs, breaths and pulse are recorded—and then we’re asked, these days, how much it hurts on a scale of one to 10. Pain didn’t get there on its own. In fact, the speaker was borrowing a line from the American Pain Society, a patient-advocacy group whose research is supported by pharmaceutical companies. “In a certain way,” he confessed, “we have created our own monster.” Continue reading »

How Addiction Can Affect Brain Connections

WBUR CommonHealth | Deborah Becker | July 10, 2014
(part of the ongoing Brain Matters: Reporting from the Frontlines of Neuroscience series)

As much of the country grapples with problems resulting from opioid addiction, some Massachusetts scientists say they’re getting a better understanding of the profound role the brain plays in addiction.

Their work is among a growing body of research showing that addiction is a complex brain disease that affects people differently. But the research also raises hopes about potential treatments.

They’re also exploring the neural roots of addiction and seeking novel treatments — including perhaps the age-old practice of meditation. Continue reading »

Brain Matters: Reporting from the Front Lines of Neuroscience

During summer 2014, WBUR ran a special series on the current state, potential, and limitations of neuroscience. The series covered:

Part 1: Are we entering a golden age of neuroscience?

Brain Images: New Techniques And Bright Colors
5 Ways The Brain Stymies Scientists And 5 New Tools To Crack It, an interview with CLBB Faculty member Steve Hyman
Unlocking The Brain: Are We Entering A Golden Age Of Neuroscience?
11 Young Neuroscientists Share Their Cutting-Edge Research
Continue reading »

In Defense Of 12 Steps: What Science Really Tells Us About Addiction

AAchips-620x420

In a recent WBUR interview, Dr. Lance Dodes discussed his new book, which attempts to “debunk” the science related to the effectiveness of 12-step mutual-help programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as 12-step professional treatment. He claims that these approaches are almost completely ineffective and even harmful in treating substance use disorders.

What he claims has very serious implications because hundreds of Americans are dying every day as a result of addiction. If the science really does demonstrate that the millions of people who attend AA and similar 12-step organizations each week are really deluding themselves as to any benefit they may be getting, then this surely should be stated loud and clear.

Continue reading »