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      Pain-related mood influences pain perception differently in fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis

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          In patients, the perception of pain intensity may be influenced by the subjective representation of their disease. Although both multiple sclerosis (MS) and fibromyalgia (FM) possibly include chronic pain, they seem to elicit different disease representations because of the difference in their respective etiology, the former presenting evidence of underlying lesions as opposed to the latter. Thus, we investigated whether patients with FM differed from patients with MS with respect to their perception of “own” pain as well as others’ pain. In addition, the psychological concomitant factors associated with chronic pain were considered. Chronic pain patients with FM (n=13) or with MS (n=13) participated in this study. To assess specific pain-related features, they were contrasted with 12 other patients with MS but without chronic pain and 31 controls. A questionnaire describing imaginary painful situations showed that FM patients rated situations applied to themselves as less painful than did the controls. Additionally, pain intensity attributed to facial expressions was estimated as more intense in FM compared with the other groups of participants. There is good evidence that the mood and catastrophizing reactions expressed in FM differentially modulated the perception of pain according to whether it was their own pain or other’s pain.

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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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            The functional architecture of human empathy.

            Empathy accounts for the naturally occurring subjective experience of similarity between the feelings expressed by self and others without loosing sight of whose feelings belong to whom. Empathy involves not only the affective experience of the other person's actual or inferred emotional state but also some minimal recognition and understanding of another's emotional state. In light of multiple levels of analysis ranging from developmental psychology, social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and clinical neuropsychology, this article proposes a model of empathy that involves parallel and distributed processing in a number of dissociable computational mechanisms. Shared neural representations, self-awareness, mental flexibility, and emotion regulation constitute the basic macrocomponents of empathy, which are underpinned by specific neural systems. This functional model may be used to make specific predictions about the various empathy deficits that can be encountered in different forms of social and neurological disorders.
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              The neural substrate of human empathy: effects of perspective-taking and cognitive appraisal.

              Whether observation of distress in others leads to empathic concern and altruistic motivation, or to personal distress and egoistic motivation, seems to depend upon the capacity for self-other differentiation and cognitive appraisal. In this experiment, behavioral measures and event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging were used to investigate the effects of perspective-taking and cognitive appraisal while participants observed the facial expression of pain resulting from medical treatment. Video clips showing the faces of patients were presented either with the instruction to imagine the feelings of the patient ("imagine other") or to imagine oneself to be in the patient's situation ("imagine self"). Cognitive appraisal was manipulated by providing information that the medical treatment had or had not been successful. Behavioral measures demonstrated that perspective-taking and treatment effectiveness instructions affected participants' affective responses to the observed pain. Hemodynamic changes were detected in the insular cortices, anterior medial cingulate cortex (aMCC), amygdala, and in visual areas including the fusiform gyrus. Graded responses related to the perspective-taking instructions were observed in middle insula, aMCC, medial and lateral premotor areas, and selectively in left and right parietal cortices. Treatment effectiveness resulted in signal changes in the perigenual anterior cingulate cortex, in the ventromedial orbito-frontal cortex, in the right lateral middle frontal gyrus, and in the cerebellum. These findings support the view that humans' responses to the pain of others can be modulated by cognitive and motivational processes, which influence whether observing a conspecific in need of help will result in empathic concern, an important instigator for helping behavior.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                22 January 2014
                : 7
                : 81-87
                [1 ]Neurology/Neuropsychology, Center Memory of Resources and Research Unit, North Saint-Etienne University Hospital Center, Avenue Albert Raimond, Saint-Priest-en-Jarez, France
                [2 ]Study of Cognitive Mechansims Laboratory, France
                [3 ]Psychology Unit, University Lumière of Lyon 2, Bron, France
                [4 ]Brain Dynamics and Cognition, Lyon Neuroscience Research Center and Vinatier Hospital Center, Bron, France
                [5 ]Germaine Revel Center, Dargoire, France
                [6 ]Pain Center, North Saint-Etienne University Hospital Center, Saint-Priest-en-Jarez, France
                [7 ]Central Integration of Pain, Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, Bron, France
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Céline Borg, Neurology/Neuropsychology-CMRR Unit, CHU Nord Saint-Etienne, 42270 Saint-Priest-en-Jarez, France, Tel +33 4 77 12 78 05, Fax +33 4 77 12 05 43, Email celine.borg@ 123456chu-st-etienne.fr
                © 2014 Borg et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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