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Pain and pleasure are powerful motivators of behaviour and have historically been considered opposites. Emerging evidence from the pain and reward research fields points to extensive similarities in the anatomical substrates of painful and pleasant sensations. Recent molecular-imaging and animal studies have demonstrated the important role of the opioid and dopamine systems in modulating both pain and pleasure. Understanding the mutually inhibitory effects that pain and reward processing have on each other, and the neural mechanisms that underpin such modulation, is important for alleviating unnecessary suffering and improving well-being.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat rev neurosci

Publication Date





314 - 320


Animals, Emotions, Humans, Neurobiology, Pain, Pleasure-Pain Principle