It’s the Salient Detection System, Stupid

 Can you tell the difference among pain, depression, and pleasure? From a neurotransmitter perspective, the answer is no (see here and here). How is it that three very different states can be so neurologically similar? I feel the commonality that the nervous system purports reflects a system that responds to stimuli that are deviations from the norm. We call these instances by this word: Salient. Doesn’t that make your loins quiver? Let’s discuss how it works. Here’s your recommended reading. 1. The pain matrix reloaded: a salience detection system for the body (Thanks Sigurd) 2. Stress signalling pathways that impair prefrontal cortex structure and function (Thanks Son) 3. From the neuromatrix to the pain matrix (and back) [Note: Most of this article is an amalgamation of the three articles that I cited above and my own thoughts. Rather then cite every sentence AMA-style, I’ll give the credit to these guys above. Read ‘em and figure out how I put this together. For those who are sticklers for proper reference formatting, the type I am using is KMA-style citation.*] The Pain Neuromatrix Myth Hate to break it to you, but pain ain’t so special. Here’s why. If you follow modern pain science, you may often hear the term pain neurosignature or neurotag. This phrase is meant to describe a cluster of brain areas that are active during a pain experience. Information that can contribute to a pain experience travels to several areas. Some of the big players are the primary and secondary somatosensory cortices (all the

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