pain centers?

falvarez at falvarez at
Wed Mar 15 11:46:41 EST 1995

In article <3k4hcp$fsm at> jnilsen at (jnilsen) writes:
>From: jnilsen at (jnilsen)
>Subject: Re: pain centers?
>Date: 14 Mar 1995 16:48:25 GMT

>Franklin Boyle (fb0m+ at wrote:
>: Is there a particular location in the brain considered to
>: be a "pain center", or is the interpretation  of signals
>: that originate from injury distributed? Also, is there
>: some pathway for such signals different from that traveled by more normal
>: sensory signals, and, whether or not it is separate, could
>: damage to such a pathway cause normal signals to be
>: interpreted as pain through some sort of modulation or
>: distortion?

>: Any replies would be greatly appreciated as would pointers to
>: the literature.

>: Thanks,
>: Frank Boyle

There are many brain nuclei and pathways involved with pain transmission and 
processing. The Spinothalamic tract in the anterolateral quadrant of the 
spinal cord is the textbook example of a "pain pathway" and links certain 
neurons in the spinal cord with certain nuclei in the thalamus. If destroyed 
relieves pain but eventually pain comes back through alternative pathways that 
take on the roles of the STT channel. There are several alternatives and not 
all are well known. Different pathways mediate the reflexes, the emotions, 
the exact body localization and the modulation of the input that we all 
experience an injury. All are very active areas of current research. Therefore 
at every level of the spinal cord, brainstem and forebrain there are centers 
more or less specialized in the processing of nociceptive information (this is 
the word you should use for the sensory processing part, it becomes pain when 
we "feel" it= make it conscious with  displeasure attach to it, notice that 
there can be nociception with no or little pain or pain with no nociception, 
so they are not exactly the same and the distinction is important). For a 
first reading look into any Neurobiology or Neuroscience textbook. For further 

Pain Textbook. ed by Wall and Melzack 1994 Churchill Livingston.
Chapter 6 by Guilbaud, Bernard and Besson
Brain Areas involved in nociception and pain. pp 113-128.

Francisco J. Alvarez
Wright State University

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