A common neurobiology for pain and pleasure

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Apr;9(4):314-20. doi: 10.1038/nrn2333.


Pain and pleasure are powerful motivators of behaviour and have historically been considered opposites. Emerging evidence from the pain and reward research fields points to extensive similarities in the anatomical substrates of painful and pleasant sensations. Recent molecular-imaging and animal studies have demonstrated the important role of the opioid and dopamine systems in modulating both pain and pleasure. Understanding the mutually inhibitory effects that pain and reward processing have on each other, and the neural mechanisms that underpin such modulation, is important for alleviating unnecessary suffering and improving well-being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurobiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pleasure-Pain Principle