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Papers of the Week

Papers: 22 May 2021 - 28 May 2021

Human Studies


Front Neurol


Musical Hallucinations in Chronic Pain: The Anterior Cingulate Cortex Regulates Internally Generated Percepts.


Schmitgen A, Saal J, Sankaran N, Desai M, Joseph I, Starr P, Chang EF, Shirvalkar P
Front Neurol. 2021; 12:669172.
PMID: 34017308.


The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) has been extensively implicated in the functional brain network underlying chronic pain. Electrical stimulation of the ACC has been proposed as a therapy for refractory chronic pain, although, mechanisms of therapeutic action are still unclear. As stimulation of the ACC has been reported to produce many different behavioral and perceptual responses, this region likely plays a varied role in sensory and emotional integration as well as modulating internally generated perceptual states. In this case series, we report the emergence of subjective musical hallucinations (MH) after electrical stimulation of the ACC in two patients with refractory chronic pain. In an N-of-1 analysis from one patient, we identified neural activity (local field potentials) that distinguish MH from both the non-MH condition and during a task involving music listening. Music hallucinations were associated with reduced alpha band activity and increased gamma band activity in the ACC. Listening to similar music was associated with different changes in ACC alpha and gamma power, extending prior results that internally generated perceptual phenomena are supported by circuits in the ACC. We discuss these findings in the context of phantom perceptual phenomena and posit a framework whereby chronic pain may be interpreted as a persistent internally generated percept.