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NIDA. (2013, April 22). Brain Signature of Physical Pain Identified. Retrieved from

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Science Highlight

April 22, 2013

In a provocative study just published in the new England Journal, NIDA-supported scientists reported they were able to "see" physical pain on MRI brain scans and, for the first time, measure its intensity and tell whether a drug was relieving it. Though the research is in its early stages, the development of a reliable signature, at least for physical pain in the brain opens the door to a host of research and treatment opportunities.


Wager TD, Atlas LY, Lindquist MA, Roy M, Woo CW, Kross E. An fMRI-based neurologic signature of physical pain. N Engl J Med. 2013 Apr 11;368(15):1388-97

Brain signature of physical pain identified