Wasan AD, Loggia ML, Chen LQ, Napadow V, Kong J, Gollub RL. Neural correlates of chronic low back pain measured by arterial spin labeling. Anesthesiology 2011;115(2):364-74.Abstract
BACKGROUND: The varying nature of chronic pain (CP) is difficult to correlate to neural activity using typical functional magnetic resonance imaging methods. Arterial spin labeling is a perfusion-based imaging technique allowing the absolute quantification of regional cerebral blood flow, which is a surrogate measure of neuronal activity. METHODS: Subjects with chronic low back and radicular pain and matched healthy normal subjects, undergoing identical procedures, participated in three sessions: a characterization and training session and two arterial spin labeling sessions. In the first imaging session, CP (if any) was exacerbated using clinical maneuvers; in the second session, noxious heat was applied to the affected leg dermatome, the intensity of which was matched to the pain intensity level of the CP exacerbations for each back pain subject. RESULTS: The clinically significant worsening of ongoing CP (≤ 30%, n = 16) was associated with significant regional blood flow increases (6-10 mm/100 g of tissue/min, P less than 0.01) within brain regions known to activate with experimental pain (somatosensory, prefrontal, and insular cortices) and in other structures observed less frequently in experimental pain studies, such as the superior parietal lobule (part of the dorsal attention network). This effect is specific to changes in ongoing CP as it is observed during worsening CP, but it is not observed after thermal pain application, or in matched, pain-free healthy controls. CONCLUSIONS: Study findings demonstrate the use of arterial spin labeling to investigate the neural processing of CP, and these findings are a step forward in the quest for objective biomarkers of the chronic pain experience.
Langevin HM, Wayne PM, Macpherson H, Schnyer R, Milley RM, Napadow V, Lao L, Park J, Harris RE, Cohen M, Sherman KJ, Haramati A, Hammerschlag R. Paradoxes in acupuncture research: strategies for moving forward. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2011;2011:180805.Abstract

In November 2007, the Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR) held an international symposium to mark the 10th anniversary of the 1997 NIH Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture. The symposium presentations revealed the considerable maturation of the field of acupuncture research, yet two provocative paradoxes emerged. First, a number of well-designed clinical trials have reported that true acupuncture is superior to usual care, but does not significantly outperform sham acupuncture, findings apparently at odds with traditional theories regarding acupuncture point specificity. Second, although many studies using animal and human experimental models have reported physiological effects that vary as a function of needling parameters (e.g., mode of stimulation) the extent to which these parameters influence therapeutic outcomes in clinical trials is unclear. This White Paper, collaboratively written by the SAR Board of Directors, identifies gaps in knowledge underlying the paradoxes and proposes strategies for their resolution through translational research. We recommend that acupuncture treatments should be studied (1) "top down" as multi-component "whole-system" interventions and (2) "bottom up" as mechanistic studies that focus on understanding how individual treatment components interact and translate into clinical and physiological outcomes. Such a strategy, incorporating considerations of efficacy, effectiveness and qualitative measures, will strengthen the evidence base for such complex interventions as acupuncture.

Rosen BR, Napadow V. Quantitative markers for neuropsychiatric disease: give it a rest. Radiology 2011;259(1):17-9.
LaCount LT, Barbieri R, Park K, Kim J, Brown EN, Kuo B, Napadow V. Static and dynamic autonomic response with increasing nausea perception. Aviat Space Environ Med 2011;82(4):424-33.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Nausea is a commonly occurring symptom typified by epigastric discomfort with urge to vomit. The relationship between autonomic nervous system (ANS) outflow and increasing nausea perception is not fully understood. METHODS: Our study employed a nauseogenic visual stimulus (horizontally translating stripes) while 17 female subjects freely rated transitions in nausea level and autonomic outflow was measured (heart rate, HR; heart rate variability, HRV; skin conductance response, SCR; respiratory rate). We also adopted a recent approach to continuous high-frequency (HF) HRV estimation to evaluate dynamic cardiovagal modulation. RESULTS: HR increased from baseline for all increasing nausea transitions, especially transition to strong nausea (15.0 +/- 11.4 bpm), but decreased (-6.6 +/- 4.6 bpm) once the visual stimulus ceased. SCR also increased for all increasing nausea transitions, especially transition to strong nausea (1.76 +/- 1.68 microS), but continued to increase (0.52 +/- 0.65 microS) once visual stimulation ceased. LF/HF HRV increased following transition to moderate (1.54 +/- 2.11 a.u.) and strong (2.57 +/- 3.49 a.u.) nausea, suggesting a sympathetic shift in sympathovagal balance. However, dynamic HF HRV suggested that bursts of cardiovagal modulation precede transitions to higher nausea, perhaps influencing subjects to rate higher levels of nausea. No significant change in respiration rate was found. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that increasing nausea perception is associated with both increased sympathetic and decreased parasympathetic ANS modulation. These findings corroborate past ANS studies of nausea, applying perception-linked analyses and dynamic estimation of cardiovagal modulation in response to nausea.
Andrews SS, Addy NJ, Brent R, Arkin AP. Detailed simulations of cell biology with Smoldyn 2.1. PLoS Comput Biol 2010;6(3):e1000705.Abstract
Most cellular processes depend on intracellular locations and random collisions of individual protein molecules. To model these processes, we developed algorithms to simulate the diffusion, membrane interactions, and reactions of individual molecules, and implemented these in the Smoldyn program. Compared to the popular MCell and ChemCell simulators, we found that Smoldyn was in many cases more accurate, more computationally efficient, and easier to use. Using Smoldyn, we modeled pheromone response system signaling among yeast cells of opposite mating type. This model showed that secreted Bar1 protease might help a cell identify the fittest mating partner by sharpening the pheromone concentration gradient. This model involved about 200,000 protein molecules, about 7000 cubic microns of volume, and about 75 minutes of simulated time; it took about 10 hours to run. Over the next several years, as faster computers become available, Smoldyn will allow researchers to model and explore systems the size of entire bacterial and smaller eukaryotic cells.
Andrews SS, Addy NJ, Brent R, Arkin AP. Detailed simulations of cell biology with Smoldyn 2.1. PLoS Comput Biol 2010;6(3):e1000705.Abstract
Most cellular processes depend on intracellular locations and random collisions of individual protein molecules. To model these processes, we developed algorithms to simulate the diffusion, membrane interactions, and reactions of individual molecules, and implemented these in the Smoldyn program. Compared to the popular MCell and ChemCell simulators, we found that Smoldyn was in many cases more accurate, more computationally efficient, and easier to use. Using Smoldyn, we modeled pheromone response system signaling among yeast cells of opposite mating type. This model showed that secreted Bar1 protease might help a cell identify the fittest mating partner by sharpening the pheromone concentration gradient. This model involved about 200,000 protein molecules, about 7000 cubic microns of volume, and about 75 minutes of simulated time; it took about 10 hours to run. Over the next several years, as faster computers become available, Smoldyn will allow researchers to model and explore systems the size of entire bacterial and smaller eukaryotic cells.
Napadow V, LaCount L, Park K, As-Sanie S, Clauw DJ, Harris RE. Intrinsic brain connectivity in fibromyalgia is associated with chronic pain intensity. Arthritis Rheum 2010;62(8):2545-55.Abstract
OBJECTIVE: Fibromyalgia (FM) is considered to be the prototypical central chronic pain syndrome and is associated with widespread pain that fluctuates spontaneously. Multiple studies have demonstrated altered brain activity in these patients. The objective of this study was to investigate the degree of connectivity between multiple brain networks in patients with FM, as well as how activity in these networks correlates with the level of spontaneous pain. METHODS: Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) data from 18 patients with FM and 18 age-matched healthy control subjects were analyzed using dual-regression independent components analysis, which is a data-driven approach for the identification of independent brain networks. Intrinsic, or resting-state, connectivity was evaluated in multiple brain networks: the default mode network (DMN), the executive attention network (EAN), and the medial visual network (MVN), with the MVN serving as a negative control. Spontaneous pain levels were also analyzed for covariance with intrinsic connectivity. RESULTS: Patients with FM had greater connectivity within the DMN and right EAN (corrected P [P(corr)] < 0.05 versus controls), and greater connectivity between the DMN and the insular cortex, which is a brain region known to process evoked pain. Furthermore, greater intensity of spontaneous pain at the time of the FMRI scan correlated with greater intrinsic connectivity between the insula and both the DMN and right EAN (P(corr) < 0.05). CONCLUSION: These findings indicate that resting brain activity within multiple networks is associated with spontaneous clinical pain in patients with FM. These findings may also have broader implications for how subjective experiences such as pain arise from a complex interplay among multiple brain networks.
Hui KKS, Napadow V, Liu J, Li M, Marina O, Nixon EE, Claunch JD, LaCount L, Sporko T, Kwong KK. Monitoring acupuncture effects on human brain by FMRI. J Vis Exp 2010;(38)Abstract
Functional MRI is used to study the effects of acupuncture on the BOLD response and the functional connectivity of the human brain. Results demonstrate that acupuncture mobilizes a limbic-paralimbic-neocortical network and its anti-correlated sensorimotor/paralimbic network at multiple levels of the brain and that the hemodynamic response is influenced by the psychophysical response. Physiological monitoring may be performed to explore the peripheral response of the autonomic nerve function. This video describes the studies performed at LI4 (hegu), ST36 (zusanli) and LV3 (taichong), classical acupoints that are commonly used for modulatory and pain-reducing actions. Some issues that require attention in the applications of fMRI to acupuncture investigation are noted.
Lacount L, Napadow V, Kuo B, Park K, Kim J, Brown E, Barbieri R. Dynamic Cardiovagal Response to Motion Sickness: A Point-Process Heart Rate Variability Study. Comput Cardiol 2009;36:49-52.Abstract
A visual display of stripes was used to examine cardio-vagal response to motion sickness. Heart rate variability (HRV) was investigated using dynamic methods to discern instantaneous fluctuations in reaction to stimulus and perception-based events. A novel point process adaptive recursive algorithm was applied to the R-R series to compute instantaneous heart rate, HRV, and high frequency (HF) power as a marker of vagal activity. Results show interesting dynamic trends in each of the considered subjects. HF power averaged across ten subjects indicates a significant decrease 20s to 60s following the transition from "no nausea" to "mild." Conversely, right before "strong" nausea, the group average shows a transient trending increase in HF power. Findings confirm gradual sympathetic activation with increasing nausea, and further evidence transitory increases in vagal tone before flushes of strong nausea.
Hui KKS, Marina O, Claunch JD, Nixon EE, Fang J, Liu J, Li M, Napadow V, Vangel M, Makris N, Chan S-T, Kwong KK, Rosen BR. Acupuncture mobilizes the brain's default mode and its anti-correlated network in healthy subjects. Brain Res 2009;1287:84-103.Abstract
Previous work has shown that acupuncture stimulation evokes deactivation of a limbic-paralimbic-neocortical network (LPNN) as well as activation of somatosensory brain regions. This study explores the activity and functional connectivity of these regions during acupuncture vs. tactile stimulation and vs. acupuncture associated with inadvertent sharp pain. Acupuncture during 201 scans and tactile stimulation during 74 scans for comparison at acupoints LI4, ST36 and LV3 was monitored with fMRI and psychophysical response in 48 healthy subjects. Clusters of deactivated regions in the medial prefrontal, medial parietal and medial temporal lobes as well as activated regions in the sensorimotor and a few paralimbic structures can be identified during acupuncture by general linear model analysis and seed-based cross correlation analysis. Importantly, these clusters showed virtual identity with the default mode network and the anti-correlated task-positive network in response to stimulation. In addition, the amygdala and hypothalamus, structures not routinely reported in the default mode literature, were frequently involved in acupuncture. When acupuncture induced sharp pain, the deactivation was attenuated or became activated instead. Tactile stimulation induced greater activation of the somatosensory regions but less extensive deactivation of the LPNN. These results indicate that the deactivation of the LPNN during acupuncture cannot be completely explained by the demand of attention that is commonly proposed in the default mode literature. Our results suggest that acupuncture mobilizes the anti-correlated functional networks of the brain to mediate its actions, and that the effect is dependent on the psychophysical response.
Napadow V, Dhond RP, Kim J, LaCount L, Vangel M, Harris RE, Kettner N, Park K. Brain encoding of acupuncture sensation--coupling on-line rating with fMRI. Neuroimage 2009;47(3):1055-65.Abstract
Acupuncture-induced sensations have historically been associated with clinical efficacy. These sensations are atypical, arising from sub-dermal receptors, and their neural encoding is not well known. In this fMRI study, subjects were stimulated at acupoint PC-6, while rating sensation with a custom-built, MR-compatible potentiometer. Separate runs included real (ACUP) and sham (SHAM) acupuncture, the latter characterized by non-insertive, cutaneous stimulation. FMRI data analysis was guided by the on-line rating timeseries, thereby localizing brain correlates of acupuncture sensation. Sensation ratings correlated with stimulation more (p<0.001) for SHAM (r=0.63) than for ACUP (r=0.32). ACUP induced stronger and more varied sensations with significant persistence into no-stimulation blocks, leading to more run-time spent rating low and moderate sensations compared to SHAM. ACUP sensation correlated with activation in regions associated with sensorimotor (SII, insula) and cognitive (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC)) processing, and deactivation in default-mode network (DMN) regions (posterior cingulate, precuneus). Compared to SHAM, ACUP yielded greater activity in both anterior and posterior dmPFC and dlPFC. In contrast, SHAM produced greater activation in sensorimotor (SI, SII, insula) and greater deactivation in DMN regions. Thus, brain encoding of ACUP sensation (more persistent and varied, leading to increased cognitive load) demonstrated greater activity in both cognitive/evaluative (posterior dmPFC) and emotional/interoceptive (anterior dmPFC) cortical regions. Increased cognitive load and dmPFC activity may be a salient component of acupuncture analgesia--sensations focus attention and accentuate bodily awareness, contributing to enhanced top-down modulation of any nociceptive afference and central pain networks. Hence, acupuncture may function as a somatosensory-guided mind-body therapy.
Harris RE, Sundgren PC, Craig AD, Kirshenbaum E, Sen A, Napadow V, Clauw DJ. Elevated insular glutamate in fibromyalgia is associated with experimental pain. Arthritis Rheum 2009;60(10):3146-52.Abstract
OBJECTIVE: Central pain augmentation resulting from enhanced excitatory and/or decreased inhibitory neurotransmission is a proposed mechanism underlying the pathophysiology of functional pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia (FM). Multiple functional magnetic resonance imaging studies implicate the insula as a region of heightened neuronal activity in this condition. Since glutamate (Glu) is a major cortical excitatory neurotransmitter that functions in pain neurotransmission, we undertook this study to test our hypothesis that increased levels of insular Glu would be present in FM patients and that the concentration of this molecule would be correlated with pain report. METHODS: Nineteen FM patients and 14 age- and sex-matched pain-free controls underwent pressure pain testing and a proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy session in which the right anterior insula and right posterior insula were examined at rest. RESULTS: Compared with healthy controls, FM patients had significantly higher levels of Glu (mean +/- SD 8.09 +/- 0.72 arbitrary institutional units versus 6.86 +/- 1.29 arbitrary institutional units; P = 0.009) and combined glutamine and Glu (i.e., Glx) (mean +/- SD 12.38 +/- 0.94 arbitrary institutional units versus 10.59 +/- 1.48 arbitrary institutional units; P = 0.001) within the right posterior insula. No significant differences between groups were detected in any of the other major metabolites within this region (P > 0.05 for all comparisons), and no group differences were detected for any metabolite within the right anterior insula (P > 0.11 for all comparisons). Within the right posterior insula, higher levels of Glu and Glx were associated with lower pressure pain thresholds across both groups for medium pain (for Glu, r = -0.43, P = 0.012; for Glx, r = -0.50, P = 0.003). CONCLUSION: Enhanced glutamatergic neurotransmission resulting from higher concentrations of Glu within the posterior insula may play a role in the pathophysiology of FM and other central pain augmentation syndromes.
Gray MA, Minati L, Harrison NA, Gianaros PJ, Napadow V, Critchley HD. Physiological recordings: basic concepts and implementation during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Neuroimage 2009;47(3):1105-15.Abstract
Combining human functional neuroimaging with other forms of psychophysiological measurement, including autonomic monitoring, provides an empirical basis for understanding brain-body interactions. This approach can be applied to characterize unwanted physiological noise, examine the neural control and representation of bodily processes relevant to health and morbidity, and index covert expression of affective and cognitive processes to enhance the interpretation of task-evoked regional brain activity. In recent years, human neuroimaging has been dominated by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. The spatiotemporal information of fMRI regarding central neural activity is valuably complemented by parallel physiological monitoring, yet such studies still remain in the minority. This review article highlights fMRI studies that employed cardiac, vascular, respiratory, electrodermal, gastrointestinal and pupillary psychophysiological indices to address specific questions regarding interaction between brain and bodily state in the context of experience, cognition, emotion and behaviour. Physiological monitoring within the fMRI environment presents specific technical issues, most importantly related to safety. Mechanical and electrical hazards may present dangers to scanned subjects, operator and/or equipment. Furthermore, physiological monitoring may interfere with the quality of neuroimaging data, or itself be compromised by artefacts induced by the operation of the scanner. We review the sources of these potential problems and the current approaches and advice to enable the combination of fMRI and physiological monitoring in a safe and effective manner.
Wayne PM, Hammerschlag R, Langevin HM, Napadow V, Park JJ, Schnyer RN. Resolving paradoxes in acupuncture research: a roundtable discussion. J Altern Complement Med 2009;15(9):1039-44. wayne_jacm_2009.pdf
Napadow V, Dhond R, Park K, Kim J, Makris N, Kwong KK, Harris RE, Purdon PL, Kettner N, Hui KKS. Time-variant fMRI activity in the brainstem and higher structures in response to acupuncture. Neuroimage 2009;47(1):289-301.Abstract
Acupuncture modulation of activity in the human brainstem is not well known. This structure is plagued by physiological artifact in neuroimaging experiments. In addition, most studies have used short (<15 min) block designs, which miss delayed responses following longer duration stimulation. We used brainstem-focused cardiac-gated fMRI and evaluated time-variant brain response to longer duration (>30 min) stimulation with verum (VA, electro-stimulation at acupoint ST-36) or sham point (SPA, non-acupoint electro-stimulation) acupuncture. Our results provide evidence that acupuncture modulates brainstem nuclei important to endogenous monoaminergic and opioidergic systems. Specifically, VA modulated activity in the substantia nigra (SN), nucleus raphe magnus, locus ceruleus, nucleus cuneiformis, and periaqueductal gray (PAG). Activation in the ventrolateral PAG was greater for VA compared to SPA. Linearly decreasing time-variant activation, suggesting classical habituation, was found in response to both VA and SPA in sensorimotor (SII, posterior insula, premotor cortex) brain regions. However, VA also produced linearly time-variant activity in limbic regions (amygdala, hippocampus, and SN), which was bimodal and not likely habituation--consisting of activation in early blocks, and deactivation by the end of the run. Thus, acupuncture induces different brain response early, compared to 20-30 min after stimulation. We attribute the fMRI differences between VA and SPA to more varied and stronger psychophysical response induced by VA. Our study demonstrates that acupuncture modulation of brainstem structures can be studied non-invasively in humans, allowing for comparison to animal studies. Our protocol also demonstrates a fMRI approach to study habituation and other time-variant phenomena over longer time durations.
Harris RE, Zubieta J-K, Scott DJ, Napadow V, Gracely RH, Clauw DJ. Traditional Chinese acupuncture and placebo (sham) acupuncture are differentiated by their effects on mu-opioid receptors (MORs). Neuroimage 2009;47(3):1077-85.Abstract
Controversy remains regarding the mechanisms of acupuncture analgesia. A prevailing theory, largely unproven in humans, is that it involves the activation of endogenous opioid antinociceptive systems and mu-opioid receptors (MORs). This is also a neurotransmitter system that mediates the effects of placebo-induced analgesia. This overlap in potential mechanisms may explain the lack of differentiation between traditional acupuncture and either non-traditional or sham acupuncture in multiple controlled clinical trials. We compared both short- and long-term effects of traditional Chinese acupuncture (TA) versus sham acupuncture (SA) treatment on in vivo MOR binding availability in chronic pain patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia (FM). Patients were randomized to receive either TA or SA treatment over the course of 4 weeks. Positron emission tomography (PET) with (11)C-carfentanil was performed once during the first treatment session and then repeated a month later following the eighth treatment. Acupuncture therapy evoked short-term increases in MOR binding potential, in multiple pain and sensory processing regions including the cingulate (dorsal and subgenual), insula, caudate, thalamus, and amygdala. Acupuncture therapy also evoked long-term increases in MOR binding potential in some of the same structures including the cingulate (dorsal and perigenual), caudate, and amygdala. These short- and long-term effects were absent in the sham group where small reductions were observed, an effect more consistent with previous placebo PET studies. Long-term increases in MOR BP following TA were also associated with greater reductions in clinical pain. These findings suggest that divergent MOR processes may mediate clinically relevant analgesic effects for acupuncture and sham acupuncture.
Dhond RP, Yeh C, Park K, Kettner N, Napadow V. Acupuncture modulates resting state connectivity in default and sensorimotor brain networks. Pain 2008;136(3):407-18.Abstract
Previous studies have defined low-frequency, spatially consistent networks in resting fMRI data which may reflect functional connectivity. We sought to explore how a complex somatosensory stimulation, acupuncture, influences intrinsic connectivity in two of these networks: the default mode network (DMN) and sensorimotor network (SMN). We analyzed resting fMRI data taken before and after verum and sham acupuncture. Electrocardiography data were used to infer autonomic modulation through measures of heart rate variability (HRV). Probabilistic independent component analysis was used to separate resting fMRI data into DMN and SMN components. Following verum, but not sham, acupuncture there was increased DMN connectivity with pain (anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), periaqueductal gray), affective (amygdala, ACC), and memory (hippocampal formation, middle temporal gyrus) related brain regions. Furthermore, increased DMN connectivity with the hippocampal formation, a region known to support memory and interconnected with autonomic brain regions, was negatively correlated with acupuncture-induced increase in a sympathetic related HRV metric (LFu), and positively correlated with a parasympathetic related metric (HFu). Following verum, but not sham, acupuncture there was also increased SMN connectivity with pain-related brain regions (ACC, cerebellum). We attribute differences between verum and sham acupuncture to more varied and stronger sensations evoked by verum acupuncture. Our results demonstrate for the first time that acupuncture can enhance the post-stimulation spatial extent of resting brain networks to include anti-nociceptive, memory, and affective brain regions. This modulation and sympathovagal response may relate to acupuncture analgesia and other potential therapeutic effects.
Napadow V, Dhond R, Conti G, Makris N, Brown EN, Barbieri R. Brain correlates of autonomic modulation: combining heart rate variability with fMRI. Neuroimage 2008;42(1):169-77.Abstract
The central autonomic network (CAN) has been described in animal models but has been difficult to elucidate in humans. Potential confounds include physiological noise artifacts affecting brainstem neuroimaging data, and difficulty in deriving non-invasive continuous assessments of autonomic modulation. We have developed and implemented a new method which relates cardiac-gated fMRI timeseries with continuous-time heart rate variability (HRV) to estimate central autonomic processing. As many autonomic structures of interest are in brain regions strongly affected by cardiogenic pulsatility, we chose to cardiac-gate our fMRI acquisition to increase sensitivity. Cardiac-gating introduces T1-variability, which was corrected by transforming fMRI data to a fixed TR using a previously published method [Guimaraes, A.R., Melcher, J.R., et al., 1998. Imaging subcortical auditory activity in humans. Hum. Brain Mapp. 6(1), 33-41]. The electrocardiogram was analyzed with a novel point process adaptive-filter algorithm for computation of the high-frequency (HF) index, reflecting the time-varying dynamics of efferent cardiovagal modulation. Central command of cardiovagal outflow was inferred by using the resample HF timeseries as a regressor to the fMRI data. A grip task was used to perturb the autonomic nervous system. Our combined HRV-fMRI approach demonstrated HF correlation with fMRI activity in the hypothalamus, cerebellum, parabrachial nucleus/locus ceruleus, periaqueductal gray, amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, and dorsomedial/dorsolateral prefrontal, posterior insular, and middle temporal cortices. While some regions consistent with central cardiovagal control in animal models gave corroborative evidence for our methodology, other mostly higher cortical or limbic-related brain regions may be unique to humans. Our approach should be optimized and applied to study the human brain correlates of autonomic modulation for various stimuli in both physiological and pathological states.
Schnyer R, Lao L, Hammerschlag R, Wayne P, Langevin HM, Napadow V, Harris R, Park J, Milley R, Cohen M, Macpherson H. Society for Acupuncture Research: 2007 conference report: "The status and future of acupuncture research: 10 years post-NIH Consensus Conference". J Altern Complement Med 2008;14(7):859-60. schnyer_jacm_2008.pdf
Dhond RP, Witzel T, Hämäläinen M, Kettner N, Napadow V. Spatiotemporal mapping the neural correlates of acupuncture with MEG. J Altern Complement Med 2008;14(6):679-88.Abstract
Acupuncture is an ancient Eastern healing modality with putative therapeutic applications. Unfortunately, little is known about the central mechanisms by which acupuncture may exert its effects. In this study, 16 [corrected] healthy subjects were evaluated with magnetoencephalography (MEG) to map the location and timing of brain activity during low-frequency electroacupuncture (EA) and mechanical, noninsertive, sham acupuncture (SA) given at acupoint PC-6. Both EA and SA evoked brain responses that localized to contralateral primary somatosensory (SI) cortex. However, initial responses for EA peaked slightly earlier than those for SA and were located inferiorly within SI. Average equivalent current dipole strength was stronger (particularly at latencies >60 ms) for SA. These spatiotemporal differences between activations elicited by EA and SA are likely attributable to stimulus modality (electrical versus mechanical) and differences in the underlying somatosensory fibers transmitting these signals. The present data confirm that acupuncture modulates activity within somatosensory cortex, providing support for previous studies that suggest that the therapeutic effects of acupuncture are linked to SI modulation. Thus, MEG provides excellent spatiotemporal characterization of the somatosensory component of acupuncture, and future studies can contrast derived brain response parameters in healthy controls with those found in a diseased state.