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Antinociceptive Effect of Stimulating the Occipital or Retrosplenial Cortex in Rats

      Abstract

      A role for the occipital or retrosplenial cortex in nociceptive processing has not been demonstrated yet, but connections from these cortices to brain structures involved in descending pain-inhibitory mechanisms were already demonstrated. This study demonstrated that the electrical stimulation of the occipital or retrosplenial cortex produces antinociception in the rat tail-flick and formalin tests. Bilateral lesions of the dorsolateral funiculus abolished the effect of cortical stimulation in the tail-flick test. Injection of glutamate into the same targets was also antinociceptive in the tail-flick test. No rats stimulated in the occipital or retrosplenial cortex showed any change in motor performance on the Rota-rod test, or had epileptiform changes in the EEG recording during or up to 3 hours after stimulation. The antinociception induced by occipital cortex stimulation persisted after neural block of the retrosplenial cortex. The effect of retrosplenial cortex stimulation also persisted after neural block of the occipital cortex. We conclude that stimulation of the occipital or retrosplenial cortex in rats leads to antinociception activating distinct descending pain-inhibitory mechanisms, and this is unlikely to result from a reduced motor performance or a postictal phenomenon.

      Perspective

      This study presents evidence that stimulation of the retrosplenial or occipital cortex produces antinociception in rat models of acute pain. These findings enhance our understanding of the role of the cerebral cortex in control of pain.

      Key words

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