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Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2004 Aug;6(4):261-5.

Representations of pain in the brain.

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Malcom Randall VA Medical Center, 1601 SW Archer Road, Gainesville, FL 32608, USA.


In this paper, the relationships between neural mechanisms of persistent pain and the neural representations of these conditions in the human and animal brain will be reviewed. Animal models of chronic pain, such as the sciatic nerve constrictive injuries, are accompanied by somatotopically organized increases in several pain-related areas of the brain. Recent human brain imaging studies utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography have elucidated the cerebral representations of visceral and somatic hypersensitivity. Both forms of hypersensitivity are represented in similar brain regions that are activated during acute pain, yet have a more extensive or intense cerebral representation. This suggests that these somatic and visceral hyperalgesic states may be represented by increased activity in the same cerebral pathways and centers that are involved in nociceptive stimuli in normal individuals. Hyperalgesic states during clinically relevant pain are especially reflected in brain areas such as the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortical regions.

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