A UCSF-led team has demonstrated that the cerebral cortex, the site of higher cognitive functions, not only perceives pain, but plays a role in regulating pain, and that it does so in part through the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, suggesting a possible target for therapy.
The finding, published in the July 17 issue of Nature, provides some of the first neuroanatomical evidence that the cerebral cortex not only receives pain signals from nerve cells in lower regions of the brain, but modulates pain signals.
"Our finding suggests that the cerebral cortex is not just the end-point of pain processing. The activity of the cortex can change the set-point of the pain threshold in a top-down manner, completely modifying the experience of pain," says lead author Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, FRCS, UCSF assistant professor of neurological surgery.
Jennifer O’Brien | EurekAlert!
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