fMRI of Pain

  • Emma G. Duerden
  • Roberta Messina
  • Maria A. Rocca
  • Massimo Filippi
  • Gary H. DuncanEmail author
Part of the Neuromethods book series (NM, volume 119)


Pain was first considered to be a hard-wired system in which noxious input was passively transmitted along sensory channels to the brain. However, today it is generally accepted that the experience of pain is not simply driven by noxious stimulus characteristics, but that the brain is the structure where the subjective perception of pain emerges and is critically linked with other cognitive processes.

The field of pain research has progressed immensely due to the advancement of brain imaging techniques. The initial goal of this research was to expand our understanding of the cerebral mechanisms underlying the perception of pain; more recently the research objectives have shifted toward chronic pain—understanding its origins, developing methods for its diagnosis, and exploring potential avenues for its treatment. While several different neuroimaging approaches have certain advantages for the study of pain, fMRI has ultimately become the most widely utilized imaging technique over the past decade because of its noninvasive nature, high-temporal and spatial resolution, and general availability; thus, the following chapter will focus on fMRI and the special aspects of this technique that are particular to pain research.

Key words

Pain Functional neuroimaging Brain Perception 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emma G. Duerden
    • 1
  • Roberta Messina
    • 2
    • 3
  • Maria A. Rocca
    • 2
    • 3
  • Massimo Filippi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Gary H. Duncan
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Groupe de recherche sur le système nerveux centralUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Neuroimaging Research Unit, Institute of Experimental Neurology, Division of NeuroscienceSan Raffaele Scientific Institute and Vita-Salute San Raffaele UniversityMilanItaly
  3. 3.Department of Neurology, Division of NeuroscienceSan Raffaele Scientific Institute and Vita-Salute SanRaffaele UniversityMilanItaly

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