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Because pain signals potential harm to the organism, it immediately attracts attention and motivates decisions and action. However, pain is also subject to motivations-an aspect that has led to considerable changes in our understanding of (chronic) pain over the recent years. The relationship between pain and motivational states is therefore clearly bidirectional. This review provides an overview on behavioral and neuroimaging studies investigating motivational aspects of pain. We highlight recent insights into the modulation of pain through fear and social factors, summarize findings on the role of pain in fear conditioning, avoidance learning and goal conflicts and discuss evidence on pain-related cognitive interference and motivational aspects of pain relief.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Neurosci

Publication Date





affective, analgesia, cognitive, goals, learning, modulation, motivation, pain