Come and learn about pain… how the brain can deceive the pain experience and how flies can help us to understand pain. And you can take part in a nationwide experiment led by Arthritis Research UK.
Fun activities:
“Cloudy with a chance of Pain”: take part in a nationwide study investigating pain and its relationship with the weather ● Skeletons out of the closet and onto the sofa”: capturing personal patient stories with the use of a skeleton, discussion and photography ● Flies and pain: see how flies are being used to develop our understanding of pain and possible treatments


Discovery zone 1: Pain and the brain
Why do we need pain? Experiencing pain helps us avoid danger and survive. Pain helps us to rest after an injury, sending warning signals to prevent further damage. This helpful pain is known as “acute” pain, whereas the unwanted persistent pain is referred to as “chronic” pain. What is pain? How could someone not notice that they had a nail stuck in their skull? Did you ever hear the strange tale of the builder and his phantom agony? Come and explore with us how our nervous system is organised to deal with pain. There are numerous types of pain sensors in your body that trigger messages to be sent via your nerves to certain areas in your brain, known as the “Bottom-Up pathway”. On the other hand, the brain can manipulate pain sensation which is known as the “Top-Down pathway”. Activity: Come and challenge yourself and test your pain tolerance in our ice bath. Can you keep your hand in long enough to win a prize? See if it helps to distract yourself or trick yourself into thinking it’s a nice warm bath!


The pathway from injury site to spinal cord, brainstem and finally the brain (click image to read more).

Discovery zone 2: Cloudy with a chance of pain
cloudy-logoWe want to learn from your personal pain experiences to better understand pain! Ever heard someone say that they know it’s going to rain because their joints ache?  The nationwide ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Pain’ study by Arthritis Research UK [LINK] wants to find out whether this is true. Come and help us investigate the impact of weather on pain! Immerse yourself in a walkway of their data and share your stories of pain inside the listening booth.

Discovery zone 3: Pain listening booth
A listening booth will be set up to allow you to share your own story of chronic pain. Come and show us where your pain is on the skeleton and help us build a picture of the public’s experience of pain.

Discovery zone 4: Investigating mechanisms of pain

Pain sensing nerve cells in the fruit fly skin

Pain sensing nerve cells in the fruit fly skin

We all know that persistent pain isn’t a pleasant experience and research is important to help develop our understanding of how we can tackle unwanted chronic pain. To see how this is done, join us with some experiments on fruit flies which helped to unravel mechanisms of pain.

A simple experiment to measure the pain of maggots.

Contributing research groups & organisations:

  • Cloudy with a Chance of Pain — [LINK]
  • The Human Pain Research Group — [LINK]
  • Sean Sweeney — [LINK]