The Significance of Plastic Changes in Lamina 1 Systems

  • Stephen B. McMahon
  • Patrick D. Wall


There has been, for very good reasons, a growing interest in the cells of lamina 1 ever since 1970 when Christensen and Perl identified the lamina as the site of a particularly high concentration of nociceptive specific cells. The interest has been further increased by the confirmation of the area as the site of termination of fine afferents, as the site of many powerful chemicals and as the site of origin of large projecting systems. These discoveries have led to precise proposals on the function of the nociceptive specific cells in relation to pain. Perl (1985) writes: In my view, selective nocireceptive projections have much to do with both the recognition and localization of tissue-damaging stimuli as pain sensation. It is further proposed that these cells represent a stable component of the nocireceptive projections. Laird and Cervero have emphasised altered responsiveness of multireceptive deep dorsal horn cells following noxious stimulation and concluded: This shows fundamental differences in the processing of nociceptive information by Multireceptive and Nocireceptive cells (Laird and Cervero, 1988) and: These results suggest that the system of the nocireceptive neurones in the superficial dorsal horn is functionally hard-wired (Cervero and Laird, 1988). These statements with which many other workers agree, are clearly of considerable practical importance as well as being summaries of experimental observations. They therefore deserve particularly careful examination. This paper will review the available data and will conclude that the quoted statements are too strong and that alternative proposals should be entertained.


Conditioning Stimulus Receptive Field Dorsal Horn Dorsal Horn Neurone Saphenous Nerve 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen B. McMahon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Patrick D. Wall
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Sherrington School of PhysiologySt. Thomas’s Hospital Medical SchoolLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy and Developmental BiologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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