9 The Biopsychology of Pain

Behavioral Neuroscience

  1. Magali Millecamps PhD1,
  2. David A. Seminowicz PhD1,
  3. M. Catherine Bushnell PhD2,
  4. Terence J. Coderre PhD3

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop203009

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Millecamps, M., Seminowicz, D. A., Bushnell, M. C. and Coderre, T. J. 2012. The Biopsychology of Pain. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 3:9.

Author Information

  1. 1

    McGill University, Department of Dentistry, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

  2. 2

    Clinical Research Institute of Montreal, Pain Mechanisms Laboratory, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

  3. 3

    McGill University, Anesthesia Research Unit, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


In this chapter we summarize the current knowledge concerning the anatomical, physiological, and neurochemical substrates that underlie both physiological and pathological pain. We describe the transmission of inputs from the periphery to the CNS, the physiological properties of the neurons activated by painful stimuli, and the neurochemicals that have been found to mediate or modulate synaptic transmission in somatosensory pathways. We break down our review into separate sections on the peripheral nervous system and the CNS, with a further breakdown of the CNS into the spinal cord dorsal horn and the brain and brainstem. We end each of these sections with a specific discussion of the pathology in these systems in chronic pain. In the last section of the chapter we discuss pain control, with particular emphasis on brainstem and brain mechanisms.


  • nociception;
  • chronic pain;
  • plasticity;
  • spinal cord;
  • brain