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Imaging techniques with high spatial and temporal resolution (PET,fMRI, MEG) provide detailed information about the brains' processing of pain. Structures detected by these techniques are not understood as pain centers but as nodal points of a dynamic network which is influenced by physiological and psychological input. Imaging techniques can be used for the investigation of different pain components. The neuronal network that encodes sensory-discriminative information consists of the primary and secondary somatosensory cortex which receive input from lateral thalamic nuclei. Information for the affective pain component reach the anterior cingulate cortex, insula and prefrontal cortex via medial thalamic nuclei. Until now only little is known about cortical structures mediating the cognitive pain component. In chronic pain the cortical and subcortical processing of nociceptive input is presumably modified. Reorganization in the primary somatosensory cortex is presented as an example of neuronal plasticity induced by chronic pain.

Original publication

DOI

10.1007/s001010050956

Type

Journal article

Journal

Anaesthesist

Publication Date

01/2001

Volume

50

Pages

2 - 12

Keywords

Animals, Central Nervous System, Diagnostic Imaging, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Magnetoencephalography, Nerve Net, Pain, Tomography, Emission-Computed