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J Neurophysiol. 2005 Sep;94(3):1825-36.

Comparison of anterior cingulate and primary somatosensory neuronal responses to noxious laser-heat stimuli in conscious, behaving rats.

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Institute of Zoology, National Taiwan University, No.1 Roosevelt Rd., Section 4, Taipei 106, Taiwan.


In this study, we investigated single-unit responses of the primary sensorimotor cortex (SmI) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) to noxious stimulation of the tail of the rat. The influences of morphine on these nociceptive responses were also compared. Multiple single-unit activities were recorded from two eight-channel microwire arrays chronically implanted in the tail region of the SmI and ACC, respectively. CO2 laser-heat irradiation of the middle part of the tail at an intensity slightly higher than that causing a maximal tail flick response was used as a specific noxious stimulus. Examined individually, ACC neurons were less responsive than SmI neurons to laser-heat stimulus, in that only 51% of the ACC units (n = 125) responded compared with 88% of the SmI units (n = 74). Among these responsive ACC units, many had a very long latency and long-lasting excitatory type of response that was seldom found in the SmI. When ensemble activities were examined, laser heat evoked both short- (60 approximately 150 ms) and long-latency (151 approximately 600 ms) responses in the SmI and ACC. Latencies of both responses were longer in the ACC. Furthermore, a single dose of 2.5-10 mg/kg morphine intraperitoneally suppressed only the long latency response in the SmI, but significantly attenuated both responses in the ACC. These effects of morphine were completely blocked by prior treatment with the opiate receptor blocker, naloxone. These results provide further evidence suggesting that the SmI and ACC may play different roles in processing noxious information.

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