Brain Circuits Encoding Reward from Pain Relief

Edita Navratilova, Christopher W. Atcherley, Frank Porreca

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

Relief from pain in humans is rewarding and pleasurable. Primary rewards, or reward-predictive cues, are encoded in brain reward/motivational circuits. While considerable advances have been made in our understanding of reward circuits underlying positive reinforcement, less is known about the circuits underlying the hedonic and reinforcing actions of pain relief. We review findings from electrophysiological, neuroimaging, and behavioral studies supporting the concept that the rewarding effect of pain relief requires opioid signaling in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), activation of midbrain dopamine neurons, and the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Understanding of circuits that govern the reward of pain relief may allow the discovery of more effective and satisfying therapies for patients with acute or chronic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-750
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Volume38
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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