Itching 101: The Process of Getting a Good Scratch

Khryss | Published 2017-09-08 14:41

Who doesn't love a good scratch?

Ever thought of how scratching an itch gives you that unique, fleeting gratification? It's almost as if we get to understand our dogs' love for it.

Well, while itching is not automated the same way we blink our eyes, it still seems to be, specially for those who have that "everyday itch-scratching habit". Research says that the urge happens when the brain registers the itching the same way it transport sensation of pain from the skin, and naturally tells you to respond (in this case, by using those nasty fingernails). But we never really gotten to that part wherein we know the particular "station" of the brain associated with it--'til now.

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences focused on the infamous part of the brain called parabrachial nucleus (PBN) and a bundle of neural receptors called GRPR. The former is actually associated with most of the sensations in the body. And the latter is projected to the PBN through the spine. The team  believed that such receptor could be what's connecting the itch from the body to our brain.

So, they've utilized mice and injected them with histamine to trigger itching. And the experiment verified the connection as such parts indeed lighted up as mice were made to itch. "Our findings suggest that the PBN represents a first central relay for itch sensation, and its activity regulates both acute and chronic itch–induced scratching," the authors conclude.

While this may sound like just a trivial finding, itching can actually be a chronic and debilitating condition. And this major finding can help such people live a better life (not overstating).

But for those who just seem to scratch the itch as a habit, now you know what part of your brain to blame!

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