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Pain Research and Management
Volume 2019, Article ID 6760121, 8 pages
Review Article

Reward Processing under Chronic Pain from the Perspective of “Liking” and “Wanting”: A Narrative Review

1CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
2Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Ning Wang;

Received 3 January 2019; Revised 6 March 2019; Accepted 4 April 2019; Published 21 April 2019

Academic Editor: Monika I. Hasenbring

Copyright © 2019 Xinhe Liu et al. 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 therapeutic goals of patients with chronic pain are not only to relieve pain but also to improve the quality of life. Chronic pain negatively affects various aspects of daily life, such as by decreasing the motivation to work and reward sensitivity, which may lead to difficulties in daily life or even unemployment. Human and animal studies have shown that chronic pain damages reward processing; the exploration of associated internal mechanisms may aid the development of treatments to repair this damage. Incentive salience theory, used widely to describe reward processing, divides this processing into “liking” (reward-induced hedonic sensory impact) and “wanting” (reward-induced motivation) components. It has been employed to explain pathological changes in reward processing induced by psychiatric disorders. In this review, we summarize the findings of studies of reward processing under chronic pain and examine the effects of chronic pain on “liking” and “wanting.” Evidence indicates that chronic pain compromises the “wanting” component of reward processing; we also discuss the neural mechanisms that may mediate this effect. We hope that this review aids the development of therapies to improve the quality of life of patients with chronic pain.