University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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A neuropsychological model of pain: research and clinical implications


Jensen, M.P



Publication Info:

Journal of Pain, 11:2-12


This focus article argues that it may be useful to consider, and expand research into, studying the associations between psychological treatments and cortical activity. Matching our current understanding of the content and goals of psychological pain treatments with knowledge regarding the primary cortical areas involved in the processing and experience of pain provides an initial step towards a neuropsychological model of pain. This model can be used to: (1) inform research and increase knowledge about the associations between cortical activity, pain treatment, and pain experience; (2) facilitate communication about psychological treatments with patients to facilitate treatment engagement; and (3) help guide the development of more effective treatment plans. In this way, the development, testing, and modification of a neuropsychological model of pain could result in more patients receiving more effective care.
PERSPECTIVE: A model that describes the effects of psychological treatments on specific pain-related cortical areas and processes could inform researchers who test hypotheses concerning the mechanisms of those treatments, and help pain clinicians develop more effective treatment plans.

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