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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Jun 2024 - 21 Jun 2024

2024 Jun 13

Neurosci Biobehav Rev


Dissecting shared pain representations to understand their behavioral and clinical relevance.


Rütgen M, Lamm C


Accounts of shared representations posit that the experience of pain and pain empathy rely on similar neural mechanisms. Experimental research employing novel analytical and methodological approaches has made significant advances in both the identification and targeted manipulation of such shared experiences and their neural underpinnings. This revealed that painful experiences can be shared on different representational levels, from pain-specific to domain-general features, such as negative affect and its regulation. In view of direct links between such representations and social behaviors such as prosocial behavior, conditions characterized by aberrant pain processing may come along with heavy impairments in the social domain, depending on the affected representational level. This has wide potential implications in light of the high prevalence of pain-related clinical conditions, their management, and the overuse of pain medication. In this review and opinion paper, we aim to chart the path toward a better understanding of the link between shared affect and prosocial behavior.