Research Article

Anterior cingulate inputs to nucleus accumbens control the social transfer of pain and analgesia

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Science  08 Jan 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6525, pp. 153-159
DOI: 10.1126/science.abe3040

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Social transmission of pain and relief

In mice, both pain and fear can be transferred by short social contact from one animal to a bystander. Neurons in a brain region called the anterior cingulate cortex in the bystander animal mediate these transfers. However, the specific anterior cingulate projections involved in such empathy-related behaviors are unknown. Smith et al. found that projections from the anterior cingulate cortex to the nucleus accumbens are necessary for the social transfer of pain in mice (see the Perspective by Klein and Gogolla). Fear, however, was mediated by projections from the anterior cingulate cortex to the basolateral amygdala. Interestingly, in animals with pain, analgesia can also be transferred socially.

Science, this issue p. 153; see also p. 122

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