Optogenetic exploration and modulation of pain processing

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Intractable pain is the single most common cause of disability, affecting more than 20% of the population world-wide. There is accordingly a global effort to decipher how changes in nociceptive processing in the peripheral and central nervous systems contribute to the onset and maintenance of chronic pain. The past several years have brought rapid progress in the adaptation of optogenetic approaches to study and manipulate the activity of sensory afferents and spinal cord neurons in freely behaving animals, and to investigate cortical processing and modulation of pain responses. This review discusses methodological advances that underlie this recent progress, and discusses practical considerations for the optogenetic modulation of nociceptive sensory processing.

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