Common Representation of Pain and Negative Emotion in the Midbrain Periaqueductal Gray

Posted: 28 Oct 2016

See all articles by Jason Buhle

Jason Buhle

Columbia University

Hedy Kober

Yale University

Kevin N. Ochsner

Columbia University - Department of Psychology

Peter Mende-Siedlecki

Princeton University - Department of Psychology

Jochen Weber

Independent

Brent Hughes

Stanford University

Ethan Kross

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Lauren Atlas

New York University (NYU)

Kateri McRae

University of Denver

Tor Wager

University of Colorado at Boulder

Date Written: October 24, 2016

Abstract

Human neuroimaging offers a powerful way to connect animal and human research on emotion, with profound implications for psychological science. However, the gulf between animal and human studies remains a formidable obstacle: human studies typically focus on the cortex and a few subcortical regions such as the amygdala, whereas deeper structures such as the brainstem periaqueductal gray (PAG) play a key role in animal models. Here, we directly assessed the role of PAG in human affect by interleaving in a single fMRI session two conditions known to elicit strong emotional responses--physical pain and negative image viewing. Negative affect and PAG activity increased in both conditions. We next examined eight independent data sets, half featuring pain stimulation and half negative image viewing. In sum, these data sets comprised 198 additional participants. We found increased activity in PAG in all eight studies. Taken together, these findings suggest PAG is a key component of human affective responses.

Suggested Citation

Buhle, Jason and Kober, Hedy and Ochsner, Kevin N. and Mende-Siedlecki, Peter and Weber, Jochen and Hughes, Brent and Kross, Ethan and Atlas, Lauren and McRae, Kateri and Wager, Tor, Common Representation of Pain and Negative Emotion in the Midbrain Periaqueductal Gray (October 24, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2858500

Jason Buhle

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Hedy Kober

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Kevin N. Ochsner

Columbia University - Department of Psychology ( email )

406 Schermerhorn Hall
1190 Amsterdam Avenue, Mail Code 5501
New York, NY 10027
United States

Peter Mende-Siedlecki

Princeton University - Department of Psychology

Green Hall
Princeton, NJ 08540
United States

Jochen Weber

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Brent Hughes

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Ethan Kross

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Lauren Atlas

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Kateri McRae

University of Denver ( email )

2201 S. Gaylord St
Denver, CO 80208-2685
United States

Tor Wager (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Boulder ( email )

Boulder, CO

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