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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 Apr 2020 - 1 May 2020

Human Studies

2020 Apr 25


Editor's Pick

Default mode network changes in fibromyalgia patients are largely dependent on current clinical pain


Čeko M, Frangos E, Gracely J, Richards E, Wang B, Schweinhardt P, Bushnell CM
Neuroimage. 2020 Apr 25:116877.
PMID: 32344063.


Differences in fMRI resting-state connectivity of the default mode network (DMN) seen in chronic pain patients are often interpreted as brain reorganization due to the chronic pain condition. Nevertheless, patients' pain at the time of fMRI might influence the DMN because pain, like cognitive stimuli, engages attentional mechanisms and cognitive engagement is known to alter DMN activity. Here, we aimed to dissociate the influence of chronic pain condition (trait) from the influence of current pain experience (state) on DMN connectivity in patients with fibromyalgia (FM). We performed resting-state fMRI scans to test DMN connectivity in FM patients and matched healthy controls in two separate cohorts: (1) in a cohort not experiencing pain during scanning (27 FM patients and 27 controls), (2) in a cohort with current clinical pain during scanning (16 FM patients and 16 controls). In FM patients without pain during scanning, the connectivity of the DMN did not differ significantly from controls. By contrast, FM patients with current clinical pain during the scan had significantly increased DMN connectivity to bilateral anterior insula (INS) similar to previous studies. Regression analysis showed a positive relationship between DMN-midINS connectivity and current pain. We therefore suggest that transient DMN disruptions due to current clinical pain during scanning (current pain state) may be a substantial contributor to DMN connectivity disruptions observed in chronic pain patients.