Cognition in the Chronic Pain Experience: Preclinical Insights

Caroline E. Phelps, Edita Navratilova, Frank Porreca

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Acutely, pain is protective. It promotes escape from, and future avoidance of, noxious stimuli through strong and often lifetime associative memories. However, with persistent acute pain or when pain becomes chronic, these memories can promote negative emotions and poor decisions often associated with deleterious behaviors. In this review, we discuss how preclinical studies can provide insights into the relationship between cognition and chronic pain. We also discuss the concept of pain as a cognitive disorder and new strategies for treating chronic pain that emphasize inhibiting the formation of pain memories or promoting ‘forgetting’ of established pain memories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-376
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • chronic pain
  • extinction
  • memory
  • pain theories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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