Desbordes G, Li A, Loggia ML, Kim J, Schalock PC, Lerner E, Tran TN, Ring J, Rosen BR, Kaptchuk TJ, Pfab F, Napadow V. Evoked itch perception is associated with changes in functional brain connectivity. Neuroimage Clin 2015;7:213-21.Abstract
Chronic itch, a highly debilitating condition, has received relatively little attention in the neuroimaging literature. Recent studies suggest that brain regions supporting itch in chronic itch patients encompass sensorimotor and salience networks, and corticostriatal circuits involved in motor preparation for scratching. However, how these different brain areas interact with one another in the context of itch is still unknown. We acquired BOLD fMRI scans in 14 atopic dermatitis patients to investigate resting-state functional connectivity before and after allergen-induced itch exacerbated the clinical itch perception in these patients. A seed-based analysis revealed decreased functional connectivity from baseline resting state to the evoked-itch state between several itch-related brain regions, particularly the insular and cingulate cortices and basal ganglia, where decreased connectivity was significantly correlated with increased levels of perceived itch. In contrast, evoked itch increased connectivity between key nodes of the frontoparietal control network (superior parietal lobule and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), where higher increase in connectivity was correlated with a lesser increase in perceived itch, suggesting that greater interaction between nodes of this executive attention network serves to limit itch sensation via enhanced top-down regulation. Overall, our results provide the first evidence of itch-dependent changes in functional connectivity across multiple brain regions.
Kim J, Loggia ML, Cahalan CM, Harris RE, Beissner F, Garcia RG, Kim H, Barbieri R, Wasan AD, Edwards RR, Napadow V. The somatosensory link in fibromyalgia: functional connectivity of the primary somatosensory cortex is altered by sustained pain and is associated with clinical/autonomic dysfunction. Arthritis Rheumatol 2015;67(5):1395-405.Abstract
OBJECTIVE: Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic functional pain syndrome characterized by widespread pain, significant pain catastrophizing, sympathovagal dysfunction, and amplified temporal summation for evoked pain. While several studies have demonstrated altered resting brain connectivity in FM, studies have not specifically probed the somatosensory system and its role in both somatic and nonsomatic FM symptoms. Our objective was to evaluate resting primary somatosensory cortex (S1) connectivity and to explore how sustained, evoked deep tissue pain modulates this connectivity. METHODS: We acquired functional magnetic resonance imaging and electrocardiography data on FM patients and healthy controls during rest (the rest phase) and during sustained mechanical pressure-induced pain over the lower leg (the pain phase). Functional connectivity associated with different S1 subregions was calculated, while S1(leg) connectivity (representation of the leg in the primary somatosensory cortex) was contrasted between the rest phase and the pain phase and was correlated with clinically relevant measures in FM. RESULTS: During the rest phase, FM patients showed decreased connectivity between multiple ipsilateral and cross-hemispheric S1 subregions, which was correlated with clinical pain severity. Compared to the rest phase, the pain phase produced increased S1(leg) connectivity to the bilateral anterior insula in FM patients, but not in healthy controls. Moreover, in FM patients, sustained pain-altered S1(leg) connectivity to the anterior insula was correlated with clinical/behavioral pain measures and autonomic responses. CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrates that both somatic and nonsomatic dysfunction in FM, including clinical pain, pain catastrophizing, autonomic dysfunction, and amplified temporal summation, are closely linked with the degree to which evoked deep tissue pain alters S1 connectivity to salience/affective pain-processing regions. Additionally, diminished connectivity between S1 subregions during the rest phase in FM may result from ongoing widespread clinical pain.
Langevin HM, Schnyer R, Macpherson H, Davis R, Harris RE, Napadow V, Wayne PM, Milley RJ, Lao L, Stener-Victorin E, Kong J-T, Hammerschlag R. Manual and electrical needle stimulation in acupuncture research: pitfalls and challenges of heterogeneity. J Altern Complement Med 2015;21(3):113-28.Abstract
In the field of acupuncture research there is an implicit yet unexplored assumption that the evidence on manual and electrical stimulation techniques, derived from basic science studies, clinical trials, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses, is generally interchangeable. Such interchangeability would justify a bidirectional approach to acupuncture research, where basic science studies and clinical trials each inform the other. This article examines the validity of this fundamental assumption by critically reviewing the literature and comparing manual to electrical acupuncture in basic science studies, clinical trials, and meta-analyses. The evidence from this study does not support the assumption that these techniques are interchangeable. This article also identifies endemic methodologic limitations that have impaired progress in the field. For example, basic science studies have not matched the frequency and duration of manual needle stimulation to the frequency and duration of electrical stimulation. Further, most clinical trials purporting to compare the two types of stimulation have instead tested electroacupuncture as an adjunct to manual acupuncture. The current findings reveal fundamental gaps in the understanding of the mechanisms and relative effectiveness of manual versus electrical acupuncture. Finally, future research directions are suggested to better differentiate electrical from manual simulation, and implications for clinical practice are discussed.
Nierhaus T, Pach D, Huang W, Long X, Napadow V, Roll S, Liang F, Pleger B, Villringer A, Witt CM. Differential cerebral response to somatosensory stimulation of an acupuncture point vs. two non-acupuncture points measured with EEG and fMRI. Front Hum Neurosci 2015;9:74.Abstract

Acupuncture can be regarded as a complex somatosensory stimulation. Here, we evaluate whether the point locations chosen for a somatosensory stimulation with acupuncture needles differently change the brain activity in healthy volunteers. We used EEG, event-related fMRI, and resting-state functional connectivity fMRI to assess neural responses to standardized needle stimulation of the acupuncture point ST36 (lower leg) and two control point locations (CP1 same dermatome, CP2 different dermatome). Cerebral responses were expected to differ for stimulation in two different dermatomes (CP2 different from ST36 and CP1), or stimulation at the acupuncture point vs. the control points. For EEG, mu rhythm power increased for ST36 compared to CP1 or CP2, but not when comparing the two control points. The fMRI analysis found more pronounced insula and S2 (secondary somatosensory cortex) activation, as well as precuneus deactivation during ST36 stimulation. The S2 seed-based functional connectivity analysis revealed increased connectivity to right precuneus for both comparisons, ST36 vs. CP1 and ST36 vs. CP2, however in different regions. Our results suggest that stimulation at acupuncture points may modulate somatosensory and saliency processing regions more readily than stimulation at non-acupuncture point locations. Also, our findings suggest potential modulation of pain perception due to acupuncture stimulation.

Kim H, Kim J, Loggia ML, Cahalan C, Garcia RG, Vangel MG, Wasan AD, Edwards RR, Napadow V. Fibromyalgia is characterized by altered frontal and cerebellar structural covariance brain networks. Neuroimage Clin 2015;7:667-77.Abstract
Altered brain morphometry has been widely acknowledged in chronic pain, and recent studies have implicated altered network dynamics, as opposed to properties of individual brain regions, in supporting persistent pain. Structural covariance analysis determines the inter-regional association in morphological metrics, such as gray matter volume, and such structural associations may be altered in chronic pain. In this study, voxel-based morphometry structural covariance networks were compared between fibromyalgia patients (N = 42) and age- and sex-matched pain-free adults (N = 63). We investigated network topology using spectral partitioning, which can delineate local network submodules with consistent structural covariance. We also explored white matter connectivity between regions comprising these submodules and evaluated the association between probabilistic white matter tractography and pain-relevant clinical metrics. Our structural covariance network analysis noted more connections within the cerebellum for fibromyalgia patients, and more connections in the frontal lobe for healthy controls. For fibromyalgia patients, spectral partitioning identified a distinct submodule with cerebellar connections to medial prefrontal and temporal and right inferior parietal lobes, whose gray matter volume was associated with the severity of depression in these patients. Volume for a submodule encompassing lateral orbitofrontal, inferior frontal, postcentral, lateral temporal, and insular cortices was correlated with evoked pain sensitivity. Additionally, the number of white matter fibers between specific submodule regions was also associated with measures of evoked pain sensitivity and clinical pain interference. Hence, altered gray and white matter morphometry in cerebellar and frontal cortical regions may contribute to, or result from, pain-relevant dysfunction in chronic pain patients.
Beissner F, Brünner F, Fink M, Meissner K, Kaptchuk TJ, Napadow V. Placebo-induced somatic sensations: a multi-modal study of three different placebo interventions. PLoS One 2015;10(4):e0124808.Abstract
Somatic sensations induced by placebos are a frequent phenomenon whose etiology and clinical relevance remains unknown. In this study, we have evaluated the quantitative, qualitative, spatial, and temporal characteristics of placebo-induced somatic sensations in response to three different placebo interventions: (1) placebo irritant solution, (2) placebo laser stimulation, and (3) imagined laser stimulation. The quality and intensity of evoked sensations were assessed using the McGill pain questionnaire and visual analogue scales (VAS), while subjects' sensation drawings processed by a geographic information system (GIS) were used to measure their spatial characteristics. We found that all three interventions are capable of producing robust sensations most frequently described as "tingling" and "warm" that can reach consider-able spatial extent (≤ 205 mm²) and intensity (≤ 80/100 VAS). Sensations from placebo stimulation were often referred to areas remote from the stimulation site and exhibit considerable similarity with referred pain. Interestingly, there was considerable similarity of qualitative features as well as spatial patterns across subjects and placebos. However, placebo laser stimulation elicited significantly stronger and more widespread sensations than placebo irritant solution. Finally, novelty seeking, a character trait assessed by the Temperament and Character Inventory and associated with basal dopaminergic activity, was less pronounced in subjects susceptible to report placebo-induced sensations. Our study has shown that placebo-induced sensations are frequent and can reach considerable intensity and extent. As multiple somatosensory subsystems are involved despite the lack of peripheral stimulus, we propose a central etiology for this phenomenon.
Loggia ML, Berna C, Kim J, Cahalan CM, Martel M-O, Gollub RL, Wasan AD, Napadow V, Edwards RR. The lateral prefrontal cortex mediates the hyperalgesic effects of negative cognitions in chronic pain patients. J Pain 2015;16(8):692-9.Abstract
UNLABELLED: Although high levels of negative affect and cognitions have been associated with greater pain sensitivity in chronic pain conditions, the neural mechanisms mediating the hyperalgesic effect of psychological factors in patients with pain disorders are largely unknown. In this cross-sectional study, we hypothesized that 1) catastrophizing modulates brain responses to pain anticipation and 2) anticipatory brain activity mediates the hyperalgesic effect of different levels of catastrophizing in fibromyalgia (FM) patients. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we scanned the brains of 31 FM patients exposed to visual cues anticipating the onset of moderately intense deep-tissue pain stimuli. Our results indicated the existence of a negative association between catastrophizing and pain-anticipatory brain activity, including in the right lateral prefrontal cortex. A bootstrapped mediation analysis revealed that pain-anticipatory activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex mediates the association between catastrophizing and pain sensitivity. These findings highlight the role of the lateral prefrontal cortex in the pathophysiology of FM-related hyperalgesia and suggest that deficits in the recruitment of pain-inhibitory brain circuitry during pain-anticipatory periods may play an important contributory role in the association between various degrees of widespread hyperalgesia in FM and levels of catastrophizing, a well-validated measure of negative cognitions and psychological distress. PERSPECTIVE: This article highlights the presence of alterations in pain-anticipatory brain activity in FM. These findings provide the rationale for the development of psychological or neurofeedback-based techniques aimed at modifying patients' negative affect and cognitions toward pain.
Napadow V, Li A, Loggia ML, Kim J, Mawla I, Desbordes G, Schalock PC, Lerner EA, Tran TN, Ring J, Rosen BR, Kaptchuk TJ, Pfab F. The imagined itch: brain circuitry supporting nocebo-induced itch in atopic dermatitis patients. Allergy 2015;70(11):1485-92.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Psychological factors are known to significantly modulate itch in patients suffering from chronic itch. Itch is also highly susceptible to both placebo and nocebo (negative placebo) effects. Brain activity likely supports nocebo-induced itch, but is currently unknown. METHODS: We collected functional MRI (fMRI) data from atopic dermatitis (AD) patients, in a within-subject design, and contrast brain response to nocebo saline understood to be allergen vs open-label saline control. Exploratory analyses compared results to real allergen itch response and placebo responsiveness, evaluated in the same patients. RESULTS: Nocebo saline produced greater itch than open saline control (P < 0.01). Compared to open saline, nocebo saline demonstrated greater fMRI response in caudate, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), and intraparietal sulcus (iPS) - brain regions important for cognitive executive and motivational processing. Exploratory analyses found that subjects with greater dlPFC and caudate activation to nocebo-induced itch also demonstrated greater dlPFC and caudate activation, respectively, for real allergen itch. Subjects reporting greater nocebo-induced itch also demonstrated greater placebo reduction of allergen-evoked itch, suggesting increased generalized modulation of itch perception. CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrates the capacity of nocebo saline to mimic both the sensory and neural effects of real allergens and provides an insight to the brain mechanisms supporting nocebo-induced itch in AD, thus aiding our understanding of the role that expectations and other psychological factors play in modulating itch perception in chronic itch patients.
Napadow V, Harris RE. What has functional connectivity and chemical neuroimaging in fibromyalgia taught us about the mechanisms and management of 'centralized' pain?. Arthritis Res Ther 2014;16(5):425.Abstract
Research suggests that fibromyalgia is a central, widespread pain syndrome supported by a generalized disturbance in central nervous system pain processing. Over the past decades, multiple lines of research have identified the locus for many functional, chronic pain disorders to the central nervous system, and the brain. In recent years, brain neuroimaging techniques have heralded a revolution in our understanding of chronic pain, as they have allowed researchers to non-invasively (or minimally invasively) evaluate human patients suffering from various pain disorders. While many neuroimaging techniques have been developed, growing interest in two specific imaging modalities has led to significant contributions to chronic pain research. For instance, resting functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) is a recent adaptation of fMRI that examines intrinsic brain connectivity - defined as synchronous oscillations of the fMRI signal that occurs in the resting basal state. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) is a non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging technique that can quantify the concentration of multiple metabolites within the human brain. This review will outline recent applications of the complementary imaging techniques - fcMRI and 1H-MRS - to improve our understanding of fibromyalgia pathophysiology and how pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies contribute to analgesia in these patients. A better understanding of the brain in chronic pain, with specific linkage as to which neural processes relate to spontaneous pain perception and hyperalgesia, will greatly improve our ability to develop novel therapeutics. Neuroimaging will play a growing role in the translational research approaches needed to make this a reality.
Pfab F, Schalock PC, Napadow V, Athanasiadis GI, Huss-Marp J, Ring J. Acupuncture for allergic disease therapy--the current state of evidence. Expert Rev Clin Immunol 2014;10(7):831-41.Abstract
This review summarizes current evidence for acupuncture treatment of allergies. Several randomized controlled trials have demonstrated a specific effect of acupuncture for allergic rhinitis; while a few studies have shown positive effects for atopic dermatitis, asthma and itch. Specifically for allergic rhinitis and asthma, acupuncture may be cost-effective in terms of money spent per quality-of-life gained. Acupuncture plays an increasingly important role as an evidence-based therapy for allergy relief and can be recommended as adjunct therapy for allergic rhinitis. Future randomized controlled trials need to further explore acupuncture efficacy for the treatment of itch, atopic dermatitis and asthma. More experimental research is also needed to investigate mechanisms of action underlying acupuncture for allergy relief.
Loggia ML, Edwards RR, Harris RE, Napadow V. Reply: To PMID 24449585. Arthritis Rheumatol 2014;66(6):1684-5.
Ichesco E, Schmidt-Wilcke T, Bhavsar R, Clauw DJ, Peltier SJ, Kim J, Napadow V, Hampson JP, Kairys AE, Williams DA, Harris RE. Altered resting state connectivity of the insular cortex in individuals with fibromyalgia. J Pain 2014;15(8):815-826.e1.Abstract
UNLABELLED: The insular cortex (IC) and cingulate cortex (CC) are critically involved in pain perception. Previously we demonstrated that fibromyalgia (FM) patients have greater connectivity between the insula and default mode network at rest, and that changes in the degree of this connectivity were associated with changes in the intensity of ongoing clinical pain. In this study we more thoroughly evaluated the degree of resting-state connectivity to multiple regions of the IC in individuals with FM and healthy controls. We also investigated the relationship between connectivity, experimental pain, and current clinical chronic pain. Functional connectivity was assessed using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging in 18 FM patients and 18 age- and sex-matched healthy controls using predefined seed regions in the anterior, middle, and posterior IC. FM patients exhibited greater connectivity between 1) right mid IC and right mid/posterior CC and right mid IC, 2) right posterior IC and left CC, and 3) right anterior IC and left superior temporal gyrus. Healthy controls displayed greater connectivity between left anterior IC and bilateral medial frontal gyrus/anterior cingulate cortex; and left posterior IC and right superior frontal gyrus. Within the FM group, greater connectivity between the IC and CC was associated with decreased pressure-pain thresholds. PERSPECTIVE: These data provide further support for altered resting-state connectivity between the IC and other brain regions known to participate in pain perception/modulation, which may play a pathogenic role in conditions such as FM. We speculate that altered IC connectivity is associated with the experience of chronic pain in individuals with FM.
Napadow V, Li A, Loggia ML, Kim J, Schalock PC, Lerner E, Tran T-N, Ring J, Rosen BR, Kaptchuk TJ, Pfab F. The brain circuitry mediating antipruritic effects of acupuncture. Cereb Cortex 2014;24(4):873-82.Abstract
Itch is an aversive sensory experience and while systemic therapies, such as acupuncture, have shown promise in alleviating itch in patients suffering from chronic itch, their antipruritic mechanisms are unknown. As several lines of evidence implicate brain-focused mechanisms, we applied functional magnetic resonance imaging and our validated temperature-modulation itch model to evaluate the underlying brain circuitry supporting allergen-induced itch reduction in atopic dermatitis patients by acupuncture, antihistamine, and respective placebo treatments. Brain response to allergen itch demonstrated phase dependency. During an increasing itch phase, activation was localized in anterior insula and striatum, regions associated with salience/interoception and motivation processing. Once itch reached peak plateau, robust activation was noted in prefrontal cognitive and premotor areas. Acupuncture reduced itch and itch-evoked activation in the insula, putamen, and premotor and prefrontal cortical areas. Neither itch sensation nor itch-evoked brain response was altered following antihistamine or placebo acupuncture. Greater itch reduction following acupuncture was associated with greater reduction in putamen response, a region implicated in motivation and habitual behavior underlying the urge to scratch, specifically implicating this region in acupuncture's antipruritic effects. Understanding brain circuitry underlying itch reduction following acupuncture and related neuromodulatory therapies will significantly impact the development and applicability of novel therapies to reduce an itch.
Sclocco R, Kim J, Garcia RG, Sheehan JD, Beissner F, Bianchi AM, Cerutti S, Kuo B, Barbieri R, Napadow V. Brain Circuitry Supporting Multi-Organ Autonomic Outflow in Response to Nausea. Cereb Cortex 2014;Abstract

While autonomic outflow is an important co-factor of nausea physiology, central control of this outflow is poorly understood. We evaluated sympathetic (skin conductance level) and cardiovagal (high-frequency heart rate variability) modulation, collected synchronously with functional MRI (fMRI) data during nauseogenic visual stimulation aimed to induce vection in susceptible individuals. Autonomic data guided analysis of neuroimaging data, using a stimulus-based (analysis windows set by visual stimulation protocol) and percept-based (windows set by subjects' ratings) approach. Increased sympathetic and decreased parasympathetic modulation was associated with robust and anti-correlated brain activity in response to nausea. Specifically, greater autonomic response was associated with reduced fMRI signal in brain regions such as the insula, suggesting an inhibitory relationship with premotor brainstem nuclei. Interestingly, some sympathetic/parasympathetic specificity was noted. Activity in default mode network and visual motion areas was anti-correlated with parasympathetic outflow at peak nausea. In contrast, lateral prefrontal cortical activity was anti-correlated with sympathetic outflow during recovery, soon after cessation of nauseogenic stimulation. These results suggest divergent central autonomic control for sympathetic and parasympathetic response to nausea. Autonomic outflow and the central autonomic network underlying ANS response to nausea may be an important determinant of overall nausea intensity and, ultimately, a potential therapeutic target.

Chae Y, Lee I-S, Jung W-M, Chang D-S, Napadow V, Lee H, Park H-J, Wallraven C. Decreased peripheral and central responses to acupuncture stimulation following modification of body ownership. PLoS One 2014;9(10):e109489.Abstract
Acupuncture stimulation increases local blood flow around the site of stimulation and induces signal changes in brain regions related to the body matrix. The rubber hand illusion (RHI) is an experimental paradigm that manipulates important aspects of bodily self-awareness. The present study aimed to investigate how modifications of body ownership using the RHI affect local blood flow and cerebral responses during acupuncture needle stimulation. During the RHI, acupuncture needle stimulation was applied to the real left hand while measuring blood microcirculation with a LASER Doppler imager (Experiment 1, N = 28) and concurrent brain signal changes using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI; Experiment 2, N = 17). When the body ownership of participants was altered by the RHI, acupuncture stimulation resulted in a significantly lower increase in local blood flow (Experiment 1), and significantly less brain activation was detected in the right insula (Experiment 2). This study found changes in both local blood flow and brain responses during acupuncture needle stimulation following modification of body ownership. These findings suggest that physiological responses during acupuncture stimulation can be influenced by the modification of body ownership.
Loggia ML, Berna C, Kim J, Cahalan CM, Gollub RL, Wasan AD, Harris RE, Edwards RR, Napadow V. Disrupted brain circuitry for pain-related reward/punishment in fibromyalgia. Arthritis Rheumatol 2014;66(1):203-12.Abstract
OBJECTIVE: While patients with fibromyalgia (FM) are known to exhibit hyperalgesia, the central mechanisms contributing to this altered pain processing are not fully understood. This study was undertaken to investigate potential dysregulation of the neural circuitry underlying cognitive and hedonic aspects of the subjective experience of pain, such as anticipation of pain and anticipation of pain relief. METHODS: Thirty-one FM patients and 14 controls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging, while receiving cuff pressure pain stimuli on the leg calibrated to elicit a pain rating of ~50 on a 100-point scale. During the scan, subjects also received visual cues informing them of the impending onset of pain (pain anticipation) and the impending offset of pain (relief anticipation). RESULTS: Patients exhibited less robust activation during both anticipation of pain and anticipation of relief within regions of the brain commonly thought to be involved in sensory, affective, cognitive, and pain-modulatory processes. In healthy controls, direct searches and region-of-interest analyses of the ventral tegmental area revealed a pattern of activity compatible with the encoding of punishment signals: activation during anticipation of pain and pain stimulation, but deactivation during anticipation of pain relief. In FM patients, however, activity in the ventral tegmental area during periods of pain and periods of anticipation (of both pain and relief) was dramatically reduced or abolished. CONCLUSION: FM patients exhibit disrupted brain responses to reward/punishment. The ventral tegmental area is a source of reward-linked dopaminergic/γ-aminobutyric acid-releasing (GABAergic) neurotransmission in the brain, and our observations are compatible with reports of altered dopaminergic/GABAergic neurotransmission in FM. Reduced reward/punishment signaling in FM may be related to the augmented central processing of pain and reduced efficacy of opioid treatments in these patients.
Yu R, Gollub RL, Spaeth R, Napadow V, Wasan A, Kong J. Disrupted functional connectivity of the periaqueductal gray in chronic low back pain. Neuroimage Clin 2014;6:100-8.Abstract
Chronic low back pain is a common neurological disorder. The periaqueductal gray (PAG) plays a key role in the descending modulation of pain. In this study, we investigated brain resting state PAG functional connectivity (FC) differences between patients with chronic low back pain (cLBP) in low pain or high pain condition and matched healthy controls (HCs). PAG seed based functional connectivity (FC) analysis of the functional MR imaging data was performed to investigate the difference among the connectivity maps in the cLBP in the low or high pain condition and HC groups as well as within the cLBP at differing endogenous back pain intensities. Results showed that FC between the PAG and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC)/rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) increased in cLBP patients compared to matched controls. In addition, we also found significant negative correlations between pain ratings and PAG-vmPFC/rACC FC in cLBP patients after pain-inducing maneuver. The duration of cLBP was negatively correlated with PAG-insula and PAG-amygdala FC before pain-inducing maneuver in the patient group. These findings are in line with the impairments of the descending pain modulation reported in patients with cLBP. Our results provide evidence showing that cLBP patients have abnormal FC in PAG centered pain modulation network during rest.
Akeju O, Loggia ML, Catana C, Pavone KJ, Vazquez R, Rhee J, Contreras Ramirez V, Chonde DB, Izquierdo-Garcia D, Arabasz G, Hsu S, Habeeb K, Hooker JM, Napadow V, Brown EN, Purdon PL. Disruption of thalamic functional connectivity is a neural correlate of dexmedetomidine-induced unconsciousness. Elife 2014;3:e04499.Abstract
Understanding the neural basis of consciousness is fundamental to neuroscience research. Disruptions in cortico-cortical connectivity have been suggested as a primary mechanism of unconsciousness. By using a novel combination of positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging, we studied anesthesia-induced unconsciousness and recovery using the α₂-agonist dexmedetomidine. During unconsciousness, cerebral metabolic rate of glucose and cerebral blood flow were preferentially decreased in the thalamus, the Default Mode Network (DMN), and the bilateral Frontoparietal Networks (FPNs). Cortico-cortical functional connectivity within the DMN and FPNs was preserved. However, DMN thalamo-cortical functional connectivity was disrupted. Recovery from this state was associated with sustained reduction in cerebral blood flow and restored DMN thalamo-cortical functional connectivity. We report that loss of thalamo-cortical functional connectivity is sufficient to produce unconsciousness.
Kim J, Van Dijk KRA, Libby A, Napadow V. Frequency-dependent relationship between resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging signal power and head motion is localized within distributed association networks. Brain Connect 2014;4(1):30-9.Abstract
Recent studies have highlighted the importance of analyzing spectral power in resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) data. Significant modulation of power has been ascribed to the performance of cognitive tasks and has been ascribed clinical significance. However, the role of confounding factors such as head motion on spectral power is not fully understood. Specifically, the spatial distribution of frequency-dependent associations between rs-fMRI power and motion is unknown. We utilized a large rs-fMRI dataset (n=1000) to quantify the influence of head motion on spectral power in different frequency bands. We (1) performed regression analyses across the entire sample and (2) computed difference maps between high- and low-motion groups, more consistent with common experimental designs, and both analyses gave similar results. Greater head motion led to reduced spectral power at lower frequencies (0.007-0.05 Hz), but increased power at higher frequencies (0.12-0.167 Hz). Importantly, our whole-brain voxel-wise analysis showed that brain areas in distributed association networks (e.g., default mode and frontoparietal control networks) were most susceptible to head motion. These results were consistent with or without global signal regression (GSR). Additionally, without GSR, we noted a positive correlation with low-frequency power in the pre- and postcentral gyrus (S1/M1), mid-cingulate cortex, and insula and a negative correlation with mid-frequency (0.05-0.12 Hz) power in S1/M1, visual, and lateral temporal cortices. Hence, head motion significantly affects rs-fMRI power and great care must be taken when assigning a diagnostic marker for clinical populations known to present with greater head motion.
Maeda Y, Kettner N, Holden J, Lee J, Kim J, Cina S, Malatesta C, Gerber J, McManus C, Im J, Libby A, Mezzacappa P, Morse LR, Park K, Audette J, Tommerdahl M, Napadow V. Functional deficits in carpal tunnel syndrome reflect reorganization of primary somatosensory cortex. Brain 2014;137(Pt 6):1741-52.Abstract
Carpal tunnel syndrome, a median nerve entrapment neuropathy, is characterized by sensorimotor deficits. Recent reports have shown that this syndrome is also characterized by functional and structural neuroplasticity in the primary somatosensory cortex of the brain. However, the linkage between this neuroplasticity and the functional deficits in carpal tunnel syndrome is unknown. Sixty-three subjects with carpal tunnel syndrome aged 20-60 years and 28 age- and sex-matched healthy control subjects were evaluated with event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T while vibrotactile stimulation was delivered to median nerve innervated (second and third) and ulnar nerve innervated (fifth) digits. For each subject, the interdigit cortical separation distance for each digit's contralateral primary somatosensory cortex representation was assessed. We also evaluated fine motor skill performance using a previously validated psychomotor performance test (maximum voluntary contraction and visuomotor pinch/release testing) and tactile discrimination capacity using a four-finger forced choice response test. These biobehavioural and clinical metrics were evaluated and correlated with the second/third interdigit cortical separation distance. Compared with healthy control subjects, subjects with carpal tunnel syndrome demonstrated reduced second/third interdigit cortical separation distance (P < 0.05) in contralateral primary somatosensory cortex, corroborating our previous preliminary multi-modal neuroimaging findings. For psychomotor performance testing, subjects with carpal tunnel syndrome demonstrated reduced maximum voluntary contraction pinch strength (P < 0.01) and a reduced number of pinch/release cycles per second (P < 0.05). Additionally, for four-finger forced-choice testing, subjects with carpal tunnel syndrome demonstrated greater response time (P < 0.05), and reduced sensory discrimination accuracy (P < 0.001) for median nerve, but not ulnar nerve, innervated digits. Moreover, the second/third interdigit cortical separation distance was negatively correlated with paraesthesia severity (r = -0.31, P < 0.05), and number of pinch/release cycles (r = -0.31, P < 0.05), and positively correlated with the second and third digit sensory discrimination accuracy (r = 0.50, P < 0.05). Therefore, reduced second/third interdigit cortical separation distance in contralateral primary somatosensory cortex was associated with worse symptomatology (particularly paraesthesia), reduced fine motor skill performance, and worse sensory discrimination accuracy for median nerve innervated digits. In conclusion, primary somatosensory cortex neuroplasticity for median nerve innervated digits in carpal tunnel syndrome is indeed maladaptive and underlies the functional deficits seen in these patients.