Brief Communication abstract

Nature Neuroscience 12, 544 - 546 (2009)
Published online: 6 April 2009 | doi:10.1038/nn.2292

Relief of itch by scratching: state-dependent inhibition of primate spinothalamic tract neurons

Steve Davidson1,2, Xijing Zhang2, Sergey G Khasabov3, Donald A Simone1,3 & Glenn J Giesler Jr1,2


Itch is relieved by scratching, but the neural mechanisms that are responsible for this are unknown. Spinothalamic tract (STT) neurons respond to itch-producing agents and transmit pruritic information to the brain. We observed that scratching the cutaneous receptive field of primate STT neurons produced inhibition during histamine-evoked activity but not during spontaneous activity or activity evoked by a painful stimulus, suggesting that scratching inhibits the transmission of itch in the spinal cord in a state-dependent manner.

  1. Graduate Program in Neuroscience, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
  2. Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
  3. Department of Diagnostic and Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

Correspondence to: Glenn J Giesler Jr1,2 e-mail:


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