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In this episode, Dr. David Hanscom talks with pain psychologist, neuroscientist and co-founder of Aivo Health, Melissa Farmer. Or eight years, she has worked with world-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Vania Apkarian on how our brains process chronic pain. She shares the important discoveries resulting from that work including how, over time, the brain shifts the processing from sensory centers to the older emotional learning areas. This is an adaptive strategy that the brain uses to free up threat processing resources. Thus, pain becomes an emotional memory hard wired into our neural circuits. The good news is that this is reversible using techniques we have control over.
Melissa Farmer, PhD is one of about 5 people in the U.S. who is both a pain psychologist and neuroscientist. With 16 years of experience working with people who live with hard-to-treat chronic pain. Dr. Farmer was trained at one of the few multidisciplinary pain clinics in North America, at McGill University, where she treated patients with a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and meditation techniques for pain relief. She worked alongside Dr. Apkarian for 8 years contributing to his groundbreaking findings. Dr. Apkarian is a world-renowned neuroscientist and the first scientist to discover that chronic pain is maintained by emotional brain circuits, not tissue damage. His research reveals how the brain contributes to chronic pain and his findings emphasize that emotional learning and memory underlie the long-term suffering of chronic pain. She left the academic research world to co-found Aivo Health together with Dr. Apkarian and a pain patient, driven by the mission to bring effective and compassionate pain care to people who need it. For more information, visit: https://www.aivohealth.com/.