Reward and motivation in pain and pain relief

Edita Navratilova, Frank Porreca

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

177 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pain is fundamentally unpleasant, a feature that protects the organism by promoting motivation and learning. Relief of aversive states, including pain, is rewarding. The aversiveness of pain, as well as the reward from relief of pain, is encoded by brain reward/motivational mesocorticolimbic circuitry. In this Review, we describe current knowledge of the impact of acute and chronic pain on reward/motivation circuits gained from preclinical models and from human neuroimaging. We highlight emerging clinical evidence suggesting that anatomical and functional changes in these circuits contribute to the transition from acute to chronic pain. We propose that assessing activity in these conserved circuits can offer new outcome measures for preclinical evaluation of analgesic efficacy to improve translation and speed drug discovery. We further suggest that targeting reward/motivation circuits may provide a path for normalizing the consequences of chronic pain to the brain, surpassing symptomatic management to promote recovery from chronic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1304-1312
Number of pages9
JournalNature neuroscience
Volume17
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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