Positive emotions and brain reward circuits in chronic pain

Edita Navratilova, Kozo Morimura, Jennifer Y. Xie, Christopher W. Atcherley, Michael H. Ossipov, Frank Porreca

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

Chronic pain is an important public health problem that negatively impacts the quality of life of affected individuals and exacts enormous socioeconomic costs. Chronic pain is often accompanied by comorbid emotional disorders including anxiety, depression, and possibly anhedonia. The neural circuits underlying the intersection of pain and pleasure are not well understood. We summarize recent human and animal investigations and demonstrate that aversive aspects of pain are encoded in brain regions overlapping with areas processing reward and motivation. We highlight findings revealing anatomical and functional alterations of reward/motivation circuits in chronic pain. Finally, we review supporting evidence for the concept that pain relief is rewarding and activates brain reward/motivation circuits. Adaptations in brain reward circuits may be fundamental to the pathology of chronic pain. Knowledge of brain reward processing in the context of pain could lead to the development of new therapeutics for the treatment of emotional aspects of pain and comorbid conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1646-1652
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Volume524
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Keywords

  • Chronic pain
  • Dopamine
  • Emotions
  • Motivation
  • Opioids
  • Reward circuits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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