Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Neuroimaging methods are widely used by researchers and clinicians interested in better understanding the functioning of the human brain in health and disease. Advances have been made in understanding how nociceptive processing within the healthy human central nervous system generates a conscious perception of pain. The focus has now shifted towards patient-related research, harnessing earlier developments to test specific hypotheses in a broad range of chronic pain disorders. The timing is ideal to assess the utility of data generated from these studies. RECENT FINDINGS: This review discusses how clinical pain is represented in the human brain as compared with the processing of acute pain in healthy controls. The imaging literature is reviewed for hypotheses that have been tested in patients regarding mechanisms that might contribute towards the development of chronic pain. Issues related to plasticity, central sensitization, psychological confounds, genetics, and necrosis are examined. SUMMARY: Results to date strongly support the notion that neuroimaging will aid our understanding of basic mechanisms contributing to the generation of chronic pain states. These techniques might help diagnose a patient's pain condition in a more objective and robust way, enabling better targeting of therapies and rapid development of compounds to alleviate pain.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr opin neurol

Publication Date





392 - 400


Central Nervous System, Chronic Disease, Diagnostic Imaging, Humans, Pain