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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 2 (1989), Issue 4, Pages 235-260

Language, Culture and the Neurobiology of Pain: A Theoretical Exploration

Horacio Fabrega Jr.

University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA

Copyright © 1989 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Language and culture, as conceptualized in traditional anthropology, may have an important influence on pain and brain-behavior relations. The paradigm case for the influence of language and culture on perception and cognition is stipulated in the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis which has been applied to phenomena “external” to the individual. In this paper, the paradigm is applied to information the person retrieves from “inside” his body; namely, “noxious” stimuli which get registered in consciousness as pain.