Pain, Neurophysiological Mechanisms of

  • Patrick D. Wall
Part of the Readings from the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience book series (REN)


Pain was classically defined as the sensation evoked by injury. This attractively simple definition neglects the observed phenomena of behavior and physiology and was replaced by the International Association for the Study of Pain in 1979 with the following definition and with a crucial coda:

Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage. Pain is always subjective. Each individual learns the application of the word through experience related to injury in early life. It is unquestionably a sensation in a part of the body but it is also always unpleasant and therefore also an emotional experience.


Herpes Zoster Noxious Stimulus Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Central Synapse Spinal Cord Cell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Further reading

  1. McMahon SB, Wall PD (1985): Microneuronography and its relation to perceived sensation: A critical review. Pain 21:209–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Melzack R, Wall PD (1982): The Challenge of Pain. New York: Basic BooksGoogle Scholar
  3. Wall PD (1984): Introduction. In: The Textbook of Pain, pp 1–16, Wall PD, Melzack R, eds. Edinburgh: Churchill LivingstoneGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Boston, Inc. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick D. Wall

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