Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The perception of pain is sensitive to various mental processes such as the feelings and beliefs that someone has about pain. It is therefore not exclusively driven by the noxious input. Attentional modulation involving the descending pain modulatory system has been examined extensively in neuroimaging studies. However, the investigation of neural mechanisms underlying more complex cognitive modulation is an emerging field in pain research. Recent findings indicate an engagement of the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex during more complex modulation, leading to a change or reappraisal of the emotional significance of pain. Taking placebo-induced analgesia as an example, we discuss the contribution of attention, expectation and reappraisal as three basic mechanisms that are important for the cognitive modulation of pain.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends Cogn Sci

Publication Date





306 - 313


Analgesia, Attention, Chronic Disease, Cognition, Humans, Pain, Pain Management, Perception, Placebos, Prefrontal Cortex