70 (1) 17-21

D. M. Broom

Pain is an aversive sensation and feeling associated with actual or potential tissue damage. A pain system involving receptors, neural pathways and analytical centres in the brain exists in many kinds of animals. Feelings of pain in many species are indicated by physiological responses, direct behavioural responses and ability to learn from such experiences so that they are minimised or avoided in future. Species differ in their responses to painful stimuli because different responses are adaptive in different species but the feeling of pain is probably much less variable. In early evolution, pain must have involved cell sensitivity and localised responses but efficacy would have improved with efficient communication within the individual and sophisticated brain analysis. Pain systems have probably changed rather little during vertebrate evolution. Pain may be a greater problem for animals with less cognitive ability. The distinction between pain and nociception does not seem to be useful.

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pp 17-21
Symposium on pain