Pain elicits fear and anxiety and promotes escape, avoidance, and adaptive behaviors that are essential for survival. When pain persists, motivational priority and attention shift to pain-related information. Such a shift often results in impaired functionality, leading to maladaptive pain-related fear and anxiety and escape and avoidance behaviors. Neuroimaging studies in chronic pain patients have established that brain activity, especially in cortical and mesolimbic regions, is different from activity observed during acute pain in control subjects. In this review, we discuss the psychophysiological and neuronal factors that may be associated with the transition to chronic pain. We review information from human studies on neural circuits involved in emotional and motivational pain processing and how these circuits are altered in chronic pain conditions. We then highlight findings from animal research that can increase our understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying emotional-motivational pain processing in the brain. Finally, we discuss how translational approaches incorporating results from both human and animal investigations may aid in accelerating the discovery of therapies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine