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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 4131395, 14 pages
Research Article

The Gate Theory of Pain Revisited: Modeling Different Pain Conditions with a Parsimonious Neurocomputational Model

1Center of Mathematics, Computation and Cognition, Universidade Federal do ABC, 09210-180 Santo André, SP, Brazil
2Basic Sciences, Albert Einstein Hospital, 05521-200 Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil

Received 16 May 2015; Accepted 19 August 2015

Academic Editor: You Wan

Copyright © 2016 Francisco Javier Ropero Peláez and Shirley Taniguchi. 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.


The gate control theory of pain proposed by Melzack and Wall in 1965 is revisited through two mechanisms of neuronal regulation: NMDA synaptic plasticity and intrinsic plasticity. The Melzack and Wall circuit was slightly modified by using strictly excitatory nociceptive afferents (in the original arrangement, nociceptive afferents were considered excitatory when they project to central transmission neurons and inhibitory when projecting to substantia gelatinosa). The results of our neurocomputational model are consistent with biological ones in that nociceptive signals are blocked on their way to the brain every time a tactile stimulus is given at the same locus where the pain was produced. In the computational model, the whole set of parameters, independently of their initialization, always converge to the correct values to allow the correct computation of the circuit. To test the model, other painful conditions were analyzed: phantom limb pain, wind-up and wind-down pain, breakthrough pain, and demyelinating syndromes like Guillain-Barré and multiple sclerosis.