Saturday, August 13, 2011

Killing Pain Part III

We're going to drill a bit deeper into some science relating back to the previous post, Killing Pain Part II. I'm a visual learner, so I like to make pictures in PPT and examine them closely, so that I can visualize pathways instead of trying to memorize them. Here are a set of notes I made from DD Price's 2002 paper, Sensory and Affective Dimensions of Pain, on pathways in the brain that are involved with pain production. These are not "pain" centers - really, there is no such thing as a "pain" center. There are, however, pathways associated with pain production and processing. The verb is not the noun. And this is one of the best papers on pain processing I've found so far.

Clinical and experimental studies show serial interactions between the intensity of pain sensation, pain unpleasantness, and secondary emotions associated with reflection and future implications (i.e., suffering). These pain dimensions and their interactions relate to ascending spinal pathways and a central network of brain structures that process nociceptive information both in series and in parallel. Spinal pathways to the amygdala, hypothalamus, reticular formation, medial thalamic nuclei, and limbic cortical structures provide direct inputs to brain areas involved in arousal, bodily regulation, and hence, affect. Another major input to these same structures is from spinal pathways to somatosensory thalamic [ventroposterior lateral (VPL) and ventroposterior medial (VPM)] and cortical areas (S1, S2, and the posterior parietal cortex) and from these areas to cortical limbic structures (insular cortex, anterior cingulate cortex). This indirect cortico-limbic pathway integrates pain-perceptive (nociceptive) input with information about overall status of the body and self to provide cognitive mediation of pain affect. Both direct and cortico-limbic pathways converge on the same anterior cingulate cortical and subcortical structures whose function may be to establish emotional valence and response priorities. This entire brain network is under dynamic top-down (neural effects from higher-to- lower levels) modulation by brain mechanisms that are associated with anticipation, expectation, and other cognitive factors.

I'm putting my notes here for anyone who is interested. Click on image to embiggen.
Lateral pathways


Others (slower)


Killing Pain

Killing Pain Part II

Killing Pain Part IV

Killing Pain Part V

Killing Pain Part VI 

Somasimple discussion thread about this post series.  

Scientific American: Anger Gives You a Creative Boost
This article is about interpersonal confrontation, however, I see no difference, from the perspective of the "I"-illusion, whether the perceived "foe" is external or internal.

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