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The neuromatrix theory proposes that the anatomical substrate of the body-self is a widespread network of neurons that consists of recurrent loops between the thalamus and the cerebral cortex. The traditional theory of pain, which evolved during the early 20th century, holds that pain sensation is produced by a direct-line spinal cord pathway from “pain receptors” in the body to a “pain center” in the cerebral cortex. Research based on this theory focuses on acute pain evoked by noxious stimulation and has revealed complex physiological mechanisms at every level of the pathway from receptors to the cortex. However, it has failed to explain types of chronic pain, such as relentless backaches in the absence of any pathology or phantom limb pain that persists for decades ...

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