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Papers of the Week

Papers: 1 Jun 2024 - 7 Jun 2024

2024 Jun 05

Ann N Y Acad Sci


Pain perception as hierarchical Bayesian inference: A test case for the theory of constructed emotion.


Poublan-Couzardot A, Talmi D


An intriguing perspective about human emotion, the theory of constructed emotion considers emotions as generative models according to the Bayesian brain hypothesis. This theory brings fresh insight to existing findings, but its complexity renders it challenging to test experimentally. We argue that laboratory studies of pain could support the theory because although some may not consider pain to be a genuine emotion, the theory must at minimum be able to explain pain perception and its dysfunction in pathology. We review emerging evidence that bear on this question. We cover behavioral and neural laboratory findings, computational models, placebo hyperalgesia, and chronic pain. We conclude that there is substantial evidence for a predictive processing account of painful experience, paving the way for a better understanding of neuronal and computational mechanisms of other emotions.