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Chronicpainremainsoneofthemostindomitablemedical, biological and social challenges today. During the last

Summary: Chronicpainremainsoneofthemostindomitablemedical,
biological and social challenges today. During the last
century, several theoretical ideas and experimental
observations increased our knowledge about peripheral
and central mechanisms of pain.
One of the most prominent theories that still constitutes
the main framework within which brain mechanisms of
painareinterpretedisthe `specificitytheory'.Thisproposes
that pain is a sensory modality conveyed by a specific
pathway from peripheral pain receptors to the brain.This
notion proved to be very powerful,and gave rise to most of
the seminal research in pain physiology and clinical
treatments for acute and chronic pain. Despite these
obvious accomplishments, the role of cortical and sub-
cortical areas in pain remained elusive.Their involvement
was thought to be passive, reflecting spinal cord and
peripheral processes.
Today, evidence from non-invasive brain imaging
(positron emission tomography and functional MRI)
studies support a more prominent and active role of the


Source: Apkarian, A. Vania - Department of Physiology, Northwestern University


Collections: Biology and Medicine