by Ronald Melzack, Ph.D.
The neuromatrix theory of pain proposes that pain is a multidimensional experience produced by characteristic “neurosignature” patterns of nerve impulses generated by a widely distributed neural network – the “body-self neuromatrix” – in the brain. These neurosignature patterns may be triggered by sensory inputs, but they may also be generated independently of them. Acute pains evoked by brief noxious inputs have been meticulously investigated by neuroscientists, and their sensory transmission mechanisms are generally well understood. In contrast, chronic pain syndromes, which are often characterized by severe pain associated with little or no discernible injury or pathology, remain a mystery.