I currently still have my head down, writing, writing, and doing more writing, but I took a little time to talk to Jane Lee, who was reporting on a new paper by Robyn Crook and colleagues in Current Biology about invertebrate nociception.
This study is one of the few experiments that have looked at pain in a context closer to real-world conditions, says Zen Faulkes, an animal behavior researcher at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas, who was not involved in the project. Specifically, the study looked at pain in the context of a predator-prey interaction rather than as an isolated sensation in an individual.
It’s a very interesting and cool paper. This is the key figure:
The right two are injured squid. An injured squid 50% chance of escaping hungry fish.
But if the squid has injury, and is given a painkiller (IA in rightmost column = injured with analgesic, or a painkiller), the squid only have about a 25% chance of escaping a predator. In other words, the nociception system is helping the squid do better in the wild than if it didn’t have that sensory information.
Crook R, Dickson K, Hanlon, RT, Walters ET. 2014.Nociceptive Sensitization Reduces Predation Risk. Current Biology: in press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.043
Pain's Benefit to Squid May Hold Clues to Chronic Human Pain, Scientists Say