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      The pain matrix reloaded: a salience detection system for the body.

      Progress in Neurobiology

      physiology, Dangerous Behavior, Humans, Pain, physiopathology, Pain Measurement, Perception, Signal Transduction, Somatosensory Cortex, anatomy & histology, Attention

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          Abstract

          Neuroimaging and neurophysiological studies have shown that nociceptive stimuli elicit responses in an extensive cortical network including somatosensory, insular and cingulate areas, as well as frontal and parietal areas. This network, often referred to as the "pain matrix", is viewed as representing the activity by which the intensity and unpleasantness of the perception elicited by a nociceptive stimulus are represented. However, recent experiments have reported (i) that pain intensity can be dissociated from the magnitude of responses in the "pain matrix", (ii) that the responses in the "pain matrix" are strongly influenced by the context within which the nociceptive stimuli appear, and (iii) that non-nociceptive stimuli can elicit cortical responses with a spatial configuration similar to that of the "pain matrix". For these reasons, we propose an alternative view of the functional significance of this cortical network, in which it reflects a system involved in detecting, orienting attention towards, and reacting to the occurrence of salient sensory events. This cortical network might represent a basic mechanism through which significant events for the body's integrity are detected, regardless of the sensory channel through which these events are conveyed. This function would involve the construction of a multimodal cortical representation of the body and nearby space. Under the assumption that this network acts as a defensive system signaling potentially damaging threats for the body, emphasis is no longer on the quality of the sensation elicited by noxious stimuli but on the action prompted by the occurrence of potential threats. Copyright © 2010. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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          Most cited references 115

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          Empathy for pain involves the affective but not sensory components of pain.

          Our ability to have an experience of another's pain is characteristic of empathy. Using functional imaging, we assessed brain activity while volunteers experienced a painful stimulus and compared it to that elicited when they observed a signal indicating that their loved one--present in the same room--was receiving a similar pain stimulus. Bilateral anterior insula (AI), rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), brainstem, and cerebellum were activated when subjects received pain and also by a signal that a loved one experienced pain. AI and ACC activation correlated with individual empathy scores. Activity in the posterior insula/secondary somatosensory cortex, the sensorimotor cortex (SI/MI), and the caudal ACC was specific to receiving pain. Thus, a neural response in AI and rostral ACC, activated in common for "self" and "other" conditions, suggests that the neural substrate for empathic experience does not involve the entire "pain matrix." We conclude that only that part of the pain network associated with its affective qualities, but not its sensory qualities, mediates empathy.
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            Conflict monitoring and anterior cingulate cortex: an update.

            One hypothesis concerning the human dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is that it functions, in part, to signal the occurrence of conflicts in information processing, thereby triggering compensatory adjustments in cognitive control. Since this idea was first proposed, a great deal of relevant empirical evidence has accrued. This evidence has largely corroborated the conflict-monitoring hypothesis, and some very recent work has provided striking new support for the theory. At the same time, other findings have posed specific challenges, especially concerning the way the theory addresses the processing of errors. Recent research has also begun to shed light on the larger function of the ACC, suggesting some new possibilities concerning how conflict monitoring might fit into the cingulate's overall role in cognition and action.
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              The mismatch negativity (MMN) in basic research of central auditory processing: a review.

              In the present article, the basic research using the mismatch negativity (MMN) and analogous results obtained by using the magnetoencephalography (MEG) and other brain-imaging technologies is reviewed. This response is elicited by any discriminable change in auditory stimulation but recent studies extended the notion of the MMN even to higher-order cognitive processes such as those involving grammar and semantic meaning. Moreover, MMN data also show the presence of automatic intelligent processes such as stimulus anticipation at the level of auditory cortex. In addition, the MMN enables one to establish the brain processes underlying the initiation of attention switch to, conscious perception of, sound change in an unattended stimulus stream.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                21040755
                10.1016/j.pneurobio.2010.10.005

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