Noci-Reception, Nociceptors, and Pain

  • Edward Perl
Part of the Readings from the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience book series (REN)


Animal tissues are constantly under the influence of their environment. That environment, of course, is both external and internal to the body. By and large afferent nervous structures have adapted to indicate the state of most tissues and some of the usual changes occurring in them. Because mammalian tissues are fragile compared to objects or situations in the natural world, they can be injured by anything from sticks and stones to fires and infections. These injurious events or interactions with tissues have been grouped under the term noxious. Tissue injury usually causes human beings pain, and, in fact, the term noxious was first applied to stimuli in an attempt to define a common basis for the variety of situations evoking pain. However, it must be kept in mind that pain is a perceptual reaction, a sensation. Pain is thus subjective and only one of a number of reactions capable of being initiated by noxious stimuli. Detection of noxious events, or noci-reception, has obvious protective value, and in the normal individual, pain is part of a complex of protective reactions associated with noci-reception.


Dorsal Root Ganglion Neuron Afferent Fiber Sense Organ Noxious Stimulus Myelinated Fiber 
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Further reading

  1. Burgess PR, Perl ER (1973): Cutaneous mechanoreceptors and nociceptors. In: Handbook of Sensory Physiology, Vol II: Somatosensory System, Iggo A, ed. Berlin, Heidelberg, New York: Springer-VerlagGoogle Scholar
  2. Dallenbach KM (1939): Pain: History and present status. Am J Psychol 52:331–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Keele KD (1957): Anatomies of Pain. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C Thomas; Oxford: Blackwell Scientific PublicationsGoogle Scholar
  4. Perl ER (1984): Pain and nociception. In: Handbook of Physiology: The Nervous System III. Brookhart JM, Mountcastle VB, Darian-Smith I, eds. Bethesda: American Physiological SocietyGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Boston, Inc. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward Perl

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