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What is gate control theory?

More in Psychology. In order to explain why our mental states impact pain perceptions, researchers Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall proposed what is known as gate control theory during the early 1960s. This theory suggests that the spinal cord contains a neurological "gate" that either blocks pain signals or allows them to continue on to the brain.

What is the gate control theory of pain?

Gate Control Theory and the Brain. Researchers have long observed that factors such as thoughts, emotions, and expectations can influence our perceptions of pain. If you expect something to hurt, it probably will hurt worse. If you are upset or frightened, pain may seem more intense than it would if you were calm.

What is the gating mechanism of the spinal cord?

This gating mechanism takes place in the dorsal horns of the spinal cord. These are areas of gray matter in the posterior spine 4 that have a horn-like appearance. Both small nerve fibers (pain fibers) and large nerve fibers (normal fibers for touch, pressure, and other skin senses) carry information to two areas of the dorsal horn.

What was the impact of Melzack and wall's gate control theory?

Melzack and Wall's gate control theory prompted additional research in this area and contributed to the development of new therapeutic approaches. These impacts were beyond what the pair expected. They noted in 1982: "Fortunately, the theory came at a time when the field was ripe for change." 5

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