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J Pain Res. 2016 Sep 8;9:613-24. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S60433. eCollection 2016.

Brain imaging of pain: state of the art.

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Human Pain Research Group, Institute of Brain, Behaviour and Mental Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.


Pain is a complex sensory and emotional experience that is heavily influenced by prior experience and expectations of pain. Before the development of noninvasive human brain imaging, our grasp of the brain's role in pain processing was limited to data from postmortem studies, direct recording of brain activity, patient experience and stimulation during neurosurgical procedures, and animal models of pain. Advances made in neuroimaging have bridged the gap between brain activity and the subjective experience of pain and allowed us to better understand the changes in the brain that are associated with both acute and chronic pain. Additionally, cognitive influences on pain such as attention, anticipation, and fear can now be directly observed, allowing for the interpretation of the neural basis of the psychological modulation of pain. The use of functional brain imaging to measure changes in endogenous neurochemistry has increased our understanding of how states of increased resilience and vulnerability to pain are maintained.


EEG; PET; arthritis; fMRI; fibromyalgia

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