Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 8;106(49):20900-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0904706106. Epub 2009 Nov 19.

Cerebral and spinal modulation of pain by emotions.

Author information

Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, Canada H3C 317.


Emotions have powerful effects on pain perception. However, the brain mechanisms underlying these effects remain largely unknown. In this study, we combined functional cerebral imaging with psychophysiological methods to explore the neural mechanisms involved in the emotional modulation of spinal nociceptive responses (RIII-reflex) and pain perception in healthy participants. Emotions induced by pleasant or unpleasant pictures modulated the responses to painful electrical stimulations in the right insula, paracentral lobule, parahippocampal gyrus, thalamus, and amygdala. Right insula activation covaried with the modulation of pain perception, consistent with a key role of this structure in the integration of pain signals with the ongoing emotion. In contrast, activity in the thalamus, amygdala, and several prefrontal areas was associated with the modulation of spinal reflex responses. Last, connectivity analyses suggested an involvement of prefrontal, parahippocampal, and brainstem structures in the cerebral and cerebrospinal modulation of pain by emotions. This multiplicity of mechanisms underlying the emotional modulation of pain is reflective of the strong interrelations between pain and emotions, and emphasizes the powerful effects that emotions can have on pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center