Results of research released today indicate that, for the first time, pain can be “seen” in the brain.

“For the first time, scientists have been able to predict how much pain people are feeling by looking at images of their brains, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder,” noted a university press release. “The findings, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, may lead to the development of reliable methods doctors can use to objectively quantify a patient’s pain.”

Currently, pain intensity can only be measured based on a patient’s own description, which often includes rating the pain on a scale of one to 10, the press release noted. Objective measures of pain could confirm these pain reports and provide new clues into how the brain generates different types of pain.

The new research results also may set the stage for the development of methods using brain scans to objectively measure anxiety, depression, anger or other emotional states.

Read the press release here.