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.

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Published In

Volume 277 | Issue 5328
15 August 1997

Submission history

Received: 14 April 1997
Accepted: 24 June 1997
Published in print: 15 August 1997


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P. Rainville, Département de Psychologie and Centre de Recherche en Sciences Neurologiques, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3J7, and McConnell Brain Imaging Center, Montreal Neurological Institute, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3A 2B4.
G. H. Duncan, Département de Stomatologie, Faculté de Médecine Dentaire, and Centre de Recherche en Sciences Neurologiques, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3J7, and McConnell Brain Imaging Center, Montreal Neurological Institute, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
D. D. Price, Department of Anesthesiology, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, VA 23298, USA.
B. Carrier, Département de Stomatologie, Faculté de Médecine Dentaire, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3J7.
M. C. Bushnell, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Neurologiques, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3J7, McConnell Brain Imaging Center, Montreal Neurological Institute, Montréal, Québec, Canada, and Department of Anesthesiology, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3A 1A1.


To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: [email protected]

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