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Pain Affect Encoded in Human Anterior Cingulate But Not Somatosensory Cortex

Science  15 Aug 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5328, pp. 968-971
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5328.968

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Abstract

Recent evidence demonstrating multiple regions of human cerebral cortex activated by pain has prompted speculation about their individual contributions to this complex experience. To differentiate cortical areas involved in pain affect, hypnotic suggestions were used to alter selectively the unpleasantness of noxious stimuli, without changing the perceived intensity. Positron emission tomography revealed significant changes in pain-evoked activity within anterior cingulate cortex, consistent with the encoding of perceived unpleasantness, whereas primary somatosensory cortex activation was unaltered. These findings provide direct experimental evidence in humans linking frontal-lobe limbic activity with pain affect, as originally suggested by early clinical lesion studies.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: bushnellc{at}medcor.mcgill.ca

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