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Pain-related neurons in the human cingulate cortex


Although it is widely accepted that the cortex participates in pain perception, there is no direct evidence for the existence of cortical neurons that respond to noxious or painful stimuli in humans. Anatomical and neurophysiological studies in animals as well as brain imaging and evoked potential studies in humans suggest that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is an important area for processing sensory information related to pain1,2,3,4,5,6,7. We have now identified single neurons in ACC that respond selectively to painful thermal and mechanical stimuli, supporting a role for the ACC in pain perception.

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Figure 1: Responses and locations of ACC neurons.


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The authors would like to thank Z. Kiss, A. Parent and H. Merskey for participation in some of the cases. Research supported by grants from MRC Canada and NINDS NS36824.

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Correspondence to W. D. Hutchison.

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Hutchison, W., Davis, K., Lozano, A. et al. Pain-related neurons in the human cingulate cortex. Nat Neurosci 2, 403–405 (1999).

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