Convergence of deep somatic and visceral nociceptive information onto a discrete ventrolateral midbrain periaqueductal gray region

Neuroscience. 1994 Aug;61(4):727-32. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(94)90395-6.


Pain arising from deep structures (muscles, joints, viscera) is the type of pain of most clinical relevance and also the type of pain about whose central representation we have the least knowledge. In contrast to cutaneous pain which evokes defensive behaviours, hypertension and tachycardia, the physiological reactions to most deep pain (especially if persistent) usually include quiescence, hypotension, bradycardia and decreased reactivity to the environment. Excitation of neurons within a discrete ventrolateral midbrain periaqueductal gray region evokes a reaction seemingly identical to that evoked by pain arising from deep structures. We report here, using the technique of the noxious stimulus-evoked expression of the immediate-early gene, c-fos, that neurons within this same ventrolateral periaqueductal gray region are selectively activated by a range of deep somatic and visceral nociceptive manipulations. Thus we have identified a specific brain region that both receives convergent, deep somatic and visceral nociceptive input, and which mediates the behavioural and physiological reactions characteristic of most deep pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Mesencephalon / anatomy & histology
  • Mesencephalon / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Nociceptors / physiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Periaqueductal Gray / anatomy & histology
  • Periaqueductal Gray / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos