Every day our sensory systems perceive and integrate a variety of stimuli containing information vital for our survival. Pain acts as a protective warning system, eliciting a response to remove harmful stimuli; it may also be a symptom of an illness or present as a disease itself. There is a growing need for additional pain-relieving therapies involving the multisensory integration of smell and taste in pain modulation, an approach that may provide new strategies for the treatment and management of pain. While pain, smell, and taste share common features and are strongly linked to emotion and cognition, their interaction has been poorly explored. In this review, we provide an overview of the literature on pain modulation by olfactory and gustatory substances. It includes adult human studies investigating measures of pain threshold, tolerance, intensity, and/or unpleasantness. Due to the limited number of studies currently available, we have structured this review as a narrative in which we comment on experimentally induced and clinical pain separately on pain-smell and pain-taste interaction. Inconsistent study findings notwithstanding, pain, smell, and taste seem to interact at both the behavioral and the neural levels. Pain intensity and unpleasantness seem to be affected more by olfactory substances, whereas pain threshold and tolerance are influenced by gustatory substances. Few pilot studies to date have investigated these effects in clinical populations. While the current results are promising for the future, more evidence is needed to elucidate the link between the chemical senses and pain. Doing so has the potential to improve and develop novel options for pain treatment.

Pain, smell, and taste in adults: a narrative review of multisensory perception and interaction

Sandri, Angela
;
Cecchini, Maria Paola;Riello, Marianna;Zanini, Alice;Nocini, Riccardo;Fiorio, Mirta;Tinazzi, Michele
2021-01-01

Abstract

Every day our sensory systems perceive and integrate a variety of stimuli containing information vital for our survival. Pain acts as a protective warning system, eliciting a response to remove harmful stimuli; it may also be a symptom of an illness or present as a disease itself. There is a growing need for additional pain-relieving therapies involving the multisensory integration of smell and taste in pain modulation, an approach that may provide new strategies for the treatment and management of pain. While pain, smell, and taste share common features and are strongly linked to emotion and cognition, their interaction has been poorly explored. In this review, we provide an overview of the literature on pain modulation by olfactory and gustatory substances. It includes adult human studies investigating measures of pain threshold, tolerance, intensity, and/or unpleasantness. Due to the limited number of studies currently available, we have structured this review as a narrative in which we comment on experimentally induced and clinical pain separately on pain-smell and pain-taste interaction. Inconsistent study findings notwithstanding, pain, smell, and taste seem to interact at both the behavioral and the neural levels. Pain intensity and unpleasantness seem to be affected more by olfactory substances, whereas pain threshold and tolerance are influenced by gustatory substances. Few pilot studies to date have investigated these effects in clinical populations. While the current results are promising for the future, more evidence is needed to elucidate the link between the chemical senses and pain. Doing so has the potential to improve and develop novel options for pain treatment.
2021
experimental and clinical pain
olfactory and gustatory substances
pain analgesia
pain management
pain relief
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1037804
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