Pain affect in the absence of pain sensation: evidence of asomaesthesia after somatosensory cortex lesions in the rat.

Pain. 2012 Feb 23. [Epub ahead of print]
Pain affect in the absence of pain sensation: evidence of asomaesthesia after somatosensory cortex lesions in the rat.
Uhelski ML, Davis MA, Fuchs PN.
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Department of Diagnostic and Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Abstract

Multidimensional models of pain processing distinguish the sensory, motivational, and affective components of the pain experience. Efforts to understand underlying mechanisms have focused on isolating the roles of specific brain structures, including both limbic and non-limbic cortical areas, in the processing of nociceptive stimuli. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of the somatosensory cortex in both sensory and affective aspects of pain processing. It was hypothesized that animals with lesions of the hind limb area of the somatosensory cortex would demonstrate altered sensory processing (asomaesthesia, a deficit in the ability to detect and identify somatic sensation) in the presence of an inflammatory state when compared to animals with sham lesions. The level of pain affect produced by an inflammatory pain condition was not expected to change, as this region has not demonstrated a role in processing the affective component of pain. Seventy-nine adult female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to receive bilateral lesions or a sham procedure. The results showed that somatosensory lesions to the hindlimb region altered responses to mechanical stimulation in the presence of experimentally-induced inflammation, but did not attenuate the inflammation-induced paw volume changes or the level of pain affect, as demonstrated by escape/avoidance behavior in response to mechanical stimulation. Overall, these results support previous evidence suggesting that the somatosensory cortex is primarily involved in the processing the sensory/discriminative aspect of pain, and the current study is the first to demonstrate the presence of pain affect in the absence of somatosensory processing.

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