Pitt Med Magazine: Understanding Itch

By: Elaine Vitone

Pain and itch have an interesting relationship. If you are bitten by a mosquito, you can ease the itch by scratching your skin. And if you take a dose of a powerful painkiller like morphine, you’re likely to itch. The interrelatedness of these two experiences has made deciphering their neurobiology a real puzzler.  

In this multilayered soundscape, Sarah Ross, a Ph.D. assistant professor of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh, discusses her recent breakthroughs with this head scratcher. The team is now beginning to trace the circuit for itch, the least understood of our somatic senses. 

This Pitt Medcast was inspired by “Scratching the Surface,” a story from the Summer 2013 issue of Pitt Med magazine. Special thanks to Pittsburgh musician Will Simmons for the music.