The amygdala and persistent pain
Drevets WC
Neugebauer V, Li W, Bird GC, Han JS.
Department of Anatomy & Neurosciences,
University of Texas Medical Branch,
Galveston, 77555-1069, USA.
Neuroscientist. 2004 Jun;10(3):221-34.


A reciprocal relationship exists between persistent pain and negative affective states such as fear, anxiety, and depression. Accumulating evidence points to the amygdala as an important site of such interaction. Whereas a key role of the amygdala in the neuronal mechanisms of emotionality and affective disorders has been well established, the concept of the amygdala as an important contributor to pain and its emotional component is still emerging. This article will review and discuss evidence from anatomical, neuroimaging, behavioral, electrophysiological, pharmacological, and biochemical data that implicate the amygdala in pain modulation and emotional responses to pain. The latero-capsular division of the central nucleus of the amygdala is now defined as the "nociceptive amygdala" and integrates nociceptive information with poly-modal information about the internal and external bodily environment. Dependent on environmental conditions and affective states, the amygdala appears to play a dual facilitatory and inhibitory role in the modulation of pain behavior and nociceptive processing at different levels of the pain neuraxis. Only recently, electrophysiological, pharmacological, and biochemical neuroplastic changes were shown in the nociceptive amygdala in persistent pain. It is conceivable, however, that amygdala plasticity plays an important role in emotional pain behavior and its modulation by affective state.
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