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Annu Rev Neurosci. 2003;26:1-30. Epub 2003 Mar 6.

Pain mechanisms: labeled lines versus convergence in central processing.

Author information

  • Atkinson Pain Research Laboratory, Barrow Neurological Institute, 350 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ 85013, USA. bcraig@chw.edu


The issue of whether pain is represented by specific neural elements or by patterned activity within a convergent somatosensory subsystem has been debated for over a century. The gate control theory introduced in 1965 denied central specificity, and since then most authors have endorsed convergent wide-dynamic-range neurons. Recent functional and anatomical findings provide compelling support for a new perspective that views pain in humans as a homeostatic emotion that integrates both specific labeled lines and convergent somatic activity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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