Science and Tech


Researchers measure brain waves to detect chronic pain in patients

For the study, patients who suffer from chronic pain had devices implanted in their brains.
Computer illustration of brain waves
Posted at 2:32 PM, May 23, 2023

A study of people who suffer from chronic pain has resulted in groundbreaking findings. 

For the first time, researchers say they were able to use brain waves to predict how much pain someone was in.

The study, which was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, details four cases. Each patient had devices implanted into their brains to measure brain waves. 

Over the course of six months, the participants then reported the severity of their pain in surveys. The data was then compared to their brain activity. 

Using machine learning, the researchers say they were able to predict how much pain a person was in.

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash.

Rep. Adam Smith talks years-long struggle with pain

Chance Seales speaks with Democratic Rep. Adam Smith about his new memoir and his years-long struggle with chronic pain.


The authors note how the advancement of measuring brain waves can help people suffering from chronic pain. They say that many current methods being used to measure pain rely on a "subjective report."

"The development of personalized pain biomarkers will be central to accurate diagnosis, tracking prognosis and for future therapeutic drug and device development," the study notes. This development could be a game changer for the millions of Americans suffering from chronic pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 20.9% of adults experience chronic pain. The ailment is noted more among older adults and women, the CDC says.