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      Favorite Music Mediates Pain-related Responses in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex and Skin Pain Thresholds

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          Music therapy is widely used to enhance well-being, reduce pain, and distract patients from unpleasant symptoms in the clinical setting. However, the degree to which music modulates pain perception is unknown. The medial pain pathway including the limbic system is associated with emotion, but how music alters pathway activity is unclear. The aim of the study was to investigate pain thresholds and pain-related responses in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and whether they were modulated when subjects listened to their favorite music genre.

          Subjects and Methods

          First, 30 subjects were examined for left forearm pain threshold using electrical stimulation with Pain Vision PS-2011N. The pain thresholds with and without music were compared. Second, when an 80-μA current from Pain Vision was applied to the left ankle of eight women, the pain-related responses of the ACC with and without music were observed with functional magnetic resonance device (fMRI). The changes in the pain-related activity in both parameters were discussed.


          The median pain threshold with favorite music was 38.9 μA, compared to 29.0 μA without, which was significantly different ( p<0.0001). The men’s thresholds were significantly higher than women’s both with music ( p<0.05) and without music ( p<0.01). The pain threshold in women was more strongly affected by music than in men. The fMRI results showed that the pain-related response in the ACC in five of eight subjects was attenuated while they listened to their favorite music. No change was observed in the other three subjects.


          The present findings suggest that pain perception might be strongly affected by listening to favorite music, possibly through modulation of pain-related responses in the ACC.

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          Most cited references 51

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          Brain correlates of music-evoked emotions.

          Music is a universal feature of human societies, partly owing to its power to evoke strong emotions and influence moods. During the past decade, the investigation of the neural correlates of music-evoked emotions has been invaluable for the understanding of human emotion. Functional neuroimaging studies on music and emotion show that music can modulate activity in brain structures that are known to be crucially involved in emotion, such as the amygdala, nucleus accumbens, hypothalamus, hippocampus, insula, cingulate cortex and orbitofrontal cortex. The potential of music to modulate activity in these structures has important implications for the use of music in the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders.
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            A common neurobiology for pain and pleasure.

            Pain and pleasure are powerful motivators of behaviour and have historically been considered opposites. Emerging evidence from the pain and reward research fields points to extensive similarities in the anatomical substrates of painful and pleasant sensations. Recent molecular-imaging and animal studies have demonstrated the important role of the opioid and dopamine systems in modulating both pain and pleasure. Understanding the mutually inhibitory effects that pain and reward processing have on each other, and the neural mechanisms that underpin such modulation, is important for alleviating unnecessary suffering and improving well-being.
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              Interactions between the nucleus accumbens and auditory cortices predict music reward value.

              We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate neural processes when music gains reward value the first time it is heard. The degree of activity in the mesolimbic striatal regions, especially the nucleus accumbens, during music listening was the best predictor of the amount listeners were willing to spend on previously unheard music in an auction paradigm. Importantly, the auditory cortices, amygdala, and ventromedial prefrontal regions showed increased activity during listening conditions requiring valuation, but did not predict reward value, which was instead predicted by increasing functional connectivity of these regions with the nucleus accumbens as the reward value increased. Thus, aesthetic rewards arise from the interaction between mesolimbic reward circuitry and cortical networks involved in perceptual analysis and valuation.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                29 October 2020
                : 13
                : 2729-2737
                [1 ]Department of Research, Faculty of Biology, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi , Iasi, Romania
                [2 ]Department of Oral Health Promotion, Graduate School of Oral Medicine, Matsumoto Dental University , Nagano, Japan
                [3 ]Department of Dental Conservation, Matsumoto Dental University , Nagano, Japan
                [4 ]Department of Oral Anatomy, Matsumoto Dental University , Nagano, Japan
                [5 ]Department of Dental Pharmacology, Matsumoto Dental University , Nagano, Japan
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Mihoko Tomida Department of Oral Health Promotion, Graduate School of Oral Medicine, Matsumoto Dental University , 1780 Gobara Hirooka, Shiojiri-Shi, Nagano399-0781, JapanTel +81-263-51-2208 Email mihoko.tomida@mdu.ac.jp
                © 2020 Antioch et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 5, References: 52, Pages: 9
                Funded by: National Science Foundation of Japan;
                This work was supported by the National Science Foundation of Japan (No. 25463158). Alin Ciobica and Iulia Antioch were supported by a research grant for Young Teams offered by UEFISCDI Romania, no. PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2016-1210, contract no. 58 from 02/05/2018, called “Complex Study Regarding the Interactions Between Oxidative Stress, Inflammation and Neurological Manifestations in the Pathophysiology of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Animal Models and Human Patients).”
                Original Research


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