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In this episode, Dr. David Hanscom talks with eminent neuroscientist Dr. Tor Wager about the neurophysiology of pain. He shares how persistent activation of the acute pain system can cause sensitization and pain avoidance behavior. The brain essentially encodes an expectation of pain when certain triggers or actions occur. The patient’s beliefs about their pain can amplify it or resolve it.
Tor Wager is the Diana L. Taylor Distinguished Professor in Neuroscience at Dartmouth College, and the Director of Dartmouth’s Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience laboratory, the Dartmouth Brain Imaging Center, and the Dartmouth Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. Professor Wager’s research centers on the neurophysiology of affective processes—pain, emotion, stress, and empathy—and how they are shaped by cognitive and social influences. More information about Dr. Wager and his lab’s activities, publications, and software can be found at http://canlab.science.