Literature search services are currently unavailable. During our hosting provider's UPS upgrade we experienced a hardware failure and are currently working to resolve the issue.

Preparing your results

Our searching services are busy right now. Your search will reload in five seconds.

Forgot Password

If you have forgotten your password you can enter your email here and get a temporary password sent to your email.

Opponent appetitive-aversive neural processes underlie predictive learning of pain relief.

Termination of a painful or unpleasant event can be rewarding. However, whether the brain treats relief in a similar way as it treats natural reward is unclear, and the neural processes that underlie its representation as a motivational goal remain poorly understood. We used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to investigate how humans learn to generate expectations of pain relief. Using a pavlovian conditioning procedure, we show that subjects experiencing prolonged experimentally induced pain can be conditioned to predict pain relief. This proceeds in a manner consistent with contemporary reward-learning theory (average reward/loss reinforcement learning), reflected by neural activity in the amygdala and midbrain. Furthermore, these reward-like learning signals are mirrored by opposite aversion-like signals in lateral orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex. This dual coding has parallels to 'opponent process' theories in psychology and promotes a formal account of prediction and expectation during pain.

Pubmed ID: 16116445


  • Seymour B
  • O'Doherty JP
  • Koltzenburg M
  • Wiech K
  • Frackowiak R
  • Friston K
  • Dolan R


Nature neuroscience

Publication Data

September 29, 2005

Associated Grants

  • Agency: Wellcome Trust, Id:

Mesh Terms

  • Avoidance Learning
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Brain
  • Capsaicin
  • Conditioning (Psychology)
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxygen
  • Pain
  • Pain Management
  • Pain Measurement
  • Reward
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Time Factors