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Papers of the Week

2019 Jul-Aug

Pain Rep



Neuroimaging of pain in animal models: a review of recent literature.


Da Silva JT, Seminowicz DA
Pain Rep. 2019 Jul-Aug; 4(4):e732.
PMID: 31579844.


Neuroimaging of pain in animals allows us to better understand mechanisms of pain processing and modulation. In this review, we discuss recently published brain imaging studies in rats, mice, and monkeys, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), manganese-enhanced MRI, positron emission tomography, and electroencephalography. We provide an overview of innovations and limitations in neuroimaging techniques, as well as results of functional brain imaging studies of pain from January 1, 2016, to October 10, 2018. We then discuss how future investigations can address some bias and gaps in the field. Despite the limitations of neuroimaging techniques, the 28 studies reinforced that transition from acute to chronic pain entails considerable changes in brain function. Brain activations in acute pain were in areas more related to the sensory aspect of noxious stimulation, including primary somatosensory cortex, insula, cingulate cortex, thalamus, retrosplenial cortex, and periaqueductal gray. Pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments modulated these brain regions in several pain models. On the other hand, in chronic pain models, brain activity was observed in regions commonly associated with emotion and motivation, including prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, hippocampus, amygdala, basal ganglia, and nucleus accumbens. Neuroimaging of pain in animals holds great promise for advancing our knowledge of brain function and allowing us to expand human subject research. Additional research is needed to address effects of anesthesia, analysis approaches, sex bias and omission, and potential effects of development and aging.