Unique, common, and interacting cortical correlates of thirst and pain

Michael J. Farrell, Gary F. Egan, Frank Zamarripa, Robert Shade, John Blair-West, Peter Fox, Derek A. Denton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


This study used positron-emission tomography to establish the patterns of brain activity involved in the isolated and concurrent experiences of thirst and pain. Ten subjects were scanned while experiencing pain evoked with noxious pressure, while experiencing thirst after the infusion of hypertonic saline, and while experiencing pain when thirsty. After the onset of thirst, noxious pressure evoked more intense sensations of pain. Noxious pressure did not change subjective ratings of thirst. Thirst caused activation in the anterior cingulate (Brodmann area 32) and the insula. Enhanced pain responses were associated with increased activity in cortical regions that are known to correlate with pain intensity, and also with unique activity in the pregenual anterior cingulate and ventral orbitofrontal cortex. These findings suggest a role for limbic and prefrontal cortices in the modulation of pain during the experience of thirst.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2416-2421
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 14 2006


  • Interoception
  • Neuroimaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Unique, common, and interacting cortical correlates of thirst and pain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this