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Papers of the Week

2019 Jul-Aug

Pain Rep



Differentiating trait pain from state pain: a window into brain mechanisms underlying how we experience and cope with pain.


Across various biological and psychological attributes, individuals have a set point around which they can fluctuate transiently into various states. However, if one remains in a different state other than their set point for a considerable period (eg, induced by a disease), this different state can be considered to be a new set point that also has associated surrounding states. This concept is instructive for understanding chronic pain, where an individual's set point may maladaptively shift such that they become stuck at a new set point of pain (trait pain), from which pain can fluctuate on different timescales (ie, pain states). Here, we discuss the importance of considering trait and state pains in neuroimaging studies of brain structure and function to gain an understanding of not only an individual's current pain state but also more broadly to their trait pain, which may be more reflective of their general condition.