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The Neuroscience of Pain

Biobehavioral, Developmental, and Psychosocial Mechanisms Relevant to Intervention Targets

Atlas, Lauren Y., PhD; al'Absi, Mustafa, PhD

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000642

ABSTRACT Chronic pain is a major problem in clinical medicine and public health, affecting approximately one in five adults, and is associated with significant societal and familial burden. Early-life adversities, psychological, and biobehavioral factors are associated with an elevated risk of the subsequent development of chronic pain. In this special issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, articles address the neuroscientific, psychological, and biobehavioral processes involved in acute and chronic pain. We focus on the following themes that emerged in this special issue: (a) risk factors and early adversity as related to chronic pain; (b) the role of expectations in shaping pain perception; and (c) mechanisms of interventions targeting pain modulation. This article concludes by outlining important new targets for research, including the neurobiology of pain, important methodological challenges, and targets for personalized pain interventions.

From the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (Atlas), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland and National Institute on Drug Abuse (Atlas), National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland; and Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health (al'Absi), University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth, Minnesota.


The authors are Guest Editors of the Psychosomatic Medicine special issue: The Neuroscience of Pain: Biobehavioral, Developmental, and Psychosocial Mechanisms and Targets for Intervention.

Address correspondence to Lauren Y. Atlas, PhD, National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MD UNITED STATES. E-mail:

Received for publication September 9, 2018.

Copyright © 2018 by American Psychosomatic Society
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