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Orbitofrontal cortex mediates pain inhibition by monetary reward


Becker, Susanne; Gandhi, Wiebke; Pomares, Florence; Wager, Tor D; Schweinhardt, Petra (2017). Orbitofrontal cortex mediates pain inhibition by monetary reward. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 12(4):651-661.

Abstract

Pleasurable stimuli, including reward, inhibit pain, but the level of the neuraxis at which they do so and the cerebral processes involved are unknown. Here, we characterized a brain circuitry mediating pain inhibition by reward. Twenty-four healthy participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while playing a wheel of fortune game with simultaneous thermal pain stimuli and monetary wins or losses. As expected, winning decreased pain perception compared to losing. Inter-individual differences in pain modulation by monetary wins relative to losses correlated with activation in the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC). When pain and reward occured simultaneously, mOFCs functional connectivity changed: the signal time course in the mOFC condition-dependent correlated negatively with the signal time courses in the rostral anterior insula, anterior-dorsal cingulate cortex and primary somatosensory cortex, which might signify moment-to-moment down-regulation of these regions by the mOFC. Monetary wins and losses did not change the magnitude of pain-related activation, including in regions that code perceived pain intensity when nociceptive input varies and/or receive direct nociceptive input. Pain inhibition by reward appears to involve brain regions not typically involved in nociceptive intensity coding but likely mediate changes in the significance and/or value of pain.

Abstract

Pleasurable stimuli, including reward, inhibit pain, but the level of the neuraxis at which they do so and the cerebral processes involved are unknown. Here, we characterized a brain circuitry mediating pain inhibition by reward. Twenty-four healthy participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while playing a wheel of fortune game with simultaneous thermal pain stimuli and monetary wins or losses. As expected, winning decreased pain perception compared to losing. Inter-individual differences in pain modulation by monetary wins relative to losses correlated with activation in the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC). When pain and reward occured simultaneously, mOFCs functional connectivity changed: the signal time course in the mOFC condition-dependent correlated negatively with the signal time courses in the rostral anterior insula, anterior-dorsal cingulate cortex and primary somatosensory cortex, which might signify moment-to-moment down-regulation of these regions by the mOFC. Monetary wins and losses did not change the magnitude of pain-related activation, including in regions that code perceived pain intensity when nociceptive input varies and/or receive direct nociceptive input. Pain inhibition by reward appears to involve brain regions not typically involved in nociceptive intensity coding but likely mediate changes in the significance and/or value of pain.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Balgrist University Hospital, Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:1 April 2017
Deposited On:22 Feb 2018 13:15
Last Modified:14 Mar 2018 17:56
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1749-5016
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsw173
PubMed ID:28119505

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