Emotional-affective and cognitive dimensions of pain are less well understood than nociceptive and nocifensive components, but the forebrain is believed to play an important role. Recent evidence suggests that subcortical and cortical brain areas outside the traditional pain processing network contribute critically to emotional-affective responses and cognitive deficits related to pain. These brain areas include different nuclei of the amygdala and certain prefrontal cortical areas. Their roles in various aspects of pain will be discussed. Biomarkers of cortical dysfunction are being identified that may evolve into therapeutic targets to modulate pain experience and improve pain-related cognitive impairment. Supporting data from preclinical studies in neuropathic pain models will be presented. Neuroimaging analysis provides evidence for plastic changes in the pain processing brain network. Results of clinical studies in neuropathic pain patients suggest that neuroimaging may help determine mechanisms of altered brain functions in pain as well as monitor the effects of pharmacologic interventions to optimize treatment in individual patients. Recent progress in the analysis of higher brain functions emphasizes the concept of pain as a multidimensional experience and the need for integrative approaches to determine the full spectrum of harmful or protective neurobiological changes in pain.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2008.12.014
View details for Web of Science ID 000265769600018
View details for PubMedID 19162070
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2700838