The Myth of the Brain’s Pain Matrix?

How does the brain encode physical pain? Which brain areas (if any) respond only to painful stimuli?

A new paper reports that one supposedly “pain-selective” brain region, the posterior insula, doesn’t actually specifically encode pain – it activates in response to diverse non-painful stimuli as well. The study appears in PLoS Biology and it comes from Giulia Liberati and colleagues of the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium.

Liberati et al. found that the insula responds to non-

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