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Papers of the Week

Papers: 29 Oct 2022 - 4 Nov 2022

Human Studies


Front Pain Res (Lausanne)


Topology of pain networks in patients with temporomandibular disorder and pain-free controls with and without concurrent experimental pain: A pilot study.


Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) involve chronic pain in the masticatory muscles and jaw joints, but the mechanisms underlying the pain are heterogenous and vary across individuals. In some cases, structural, functional, and metabolic changes in the brain may underlie the condition. In the present study, we evaluated the functional connectivity between 86 regions of interest (ROIs), which were chosen based on previously reported neuroimaging studies of pain and differences in brain morphology identified in an initial surface-based morphometry analysis. Our main objectives were to investigate the topology of the network formed by these ROIs and how it differs between individuals with TMD and chronic pain ( = 16) and pain-free control participants ( = 12). In addition to a true resting state functional connectivity scan, we also measured functional connectivity during a 6-min application of a noxious cuff stimulus applied to the left leg. Our principal finding is individuals with TMD exhibit more suprathreshold correlations (higher nodal degree) among all ROIs but fewer "hub" nodes (i.e., decreased betweenness centrality) across conditions and across all pain pathways. These results suggest is this pain-related network of nodes may be "over-wired" in individuals with TMD and chronic pain compared to controls, both at rest and during experimental pain.