Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 933, 130-41

Representation of Acute and Persistent Pain in the Human CNS: Potential Implications for Chemical Intolerance


Representation of Acute and Persistent Pain in the Human CNS: Potential Implications for Chemical Intolerance

P Rainville et al. Ann N Y Acad Sci.


The study of pain may be relevant to the study of chemical intolerance (CI) in many ways. Pain is often reported as a symptom of CI and it is defined as a subjective experience similar to many other symptoms of CI, making its objectification difficult. Furthermore, the CNS plastic changes that underlie the development of persistent pain states and abnormal pain responses may share some similarities with those involved in the sensitization to environmental chemicals. Functional brain imaging studies in humans demonstrate that acute pain evoked by nociceptive stimulation is accompanied by the activation of a widely distributed network of cerebral structures, including the thalamus and the somatosensory, insular, and anterior cingulate cortices. Abnormal activity within these regions has been associated with the experience of pain following damage to the peripheral or central nervous system (neuropathic pain) in a number of clinical populations. In normal individuals, activity within this network is correlated with subjective pain perception, is highly modifiable by cognitive interventions such as hypnosis and attention, and has been associated with emotions. Other cognitive mediators such as expectations can also produce robust changes in pain perception (e.g., in placebo analgesia). These effects likely depend on both higher-order cerebral structures and descending mechanisms modulating spinal nociceptive activity. These psychological processes can be solicited to reduce clinical pain and we speculate that they may further attenuate or promote central mechanisms involved in the transition from acute to persistent pain states. The investigation of central determinants of subjective experience is essential to assess the possibility that higher-order brain/psychological processes modulate and/or mediate the development of persistent pain states. These factors may contribute to the development of symptoms in CI.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 10 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles

Publication types

MeSH terms

LinkOut - more resources