A computational model of acute pain

Karen Prince, Jackie Campbell, Phil Picton, Scott Turner

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


In 1965 Melzack and Wall proposed the influential gate control theory of pain. This theory postulates that the substantia gelatinosa, located within the spinal cord, acts like a gating mechanism, which modulates the flow of information through the spinal cord to the brain and thus impacts on the pain experience. Subsequent research has, in general, supported this theory. The explicitness of the theory and its well-defined architecture was translated into a mathematical model by Britton and Skevington in 1996. However, the use of such modelling has been very limited in the field of pain. The fact that pain is still relatively a poorly understood phenomenon despite the abundance of literature that is available and because of the difficulty in obtaining some experimental data, suggest that it is an ideal candidate for mathematical modelling. This paper successfully replicates the mathematical model as presented by Britton and Skevington. It uses this as a platform to develop the model further to test some of the assumptions made in its original development and, more importantly, to produce a more biologically plausible model that can be used for further applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalInternational Journal of Simulation: Systems, Science and Technology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Acute pain
  • Gate control theory
  • Interneurons
  • Mathematical modelling
  • T-cells


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