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Papers of the Week

Papers: 3 Feb 2024 - 9 Feb 2024

2024 Feb 16





Adolescents’ pain-related ontogeny shares a neural basis with adults’ chronic pain in basothalamo-cortical organization.


Heukamp NJ, Banaschewski T, Bokde ALW, Desrivières S, Grigis A, Garavan H, Gowland P, Heinz A, Kandić M, Brühl R, Martinot JL, Paillère Martinot ML, Artiges E, Papadopoulos Orfanos D, Lemaitre H, Löffler M, Poustka L, Hohmann S, Millenet S, Fröhner JH, Smolka MN, Usai K, Vaidya N, Walter H, Whelan R, Schumann G, Flor H, Nees F


During late adolescence, the brain undergoes ontogenic organization altering subcortical-cortical circuitry. This includes regions implicated in pain chronicity, and thus alterations in the adolescent ontogenic organization could predispose to pain chronicity in adulthood – however, evidence is lacking. Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging from a large European longitudinal adolescent cohort and an adult cohort with and without chronic pain, we examined links between painful symptoms and brain connectivity. During late adolescence, thalamo-, caudate-, and red nucleus-cortical connectivity were positively and subthalamo-cortical connectivity negatively associated with painful symptoms. Thalamo-cortical connectivity, but also subthalamo-cortical connectivity, was increased in adults with chronic pain compared to healthy controls. Our results indicate a shared basis in basothalamo-cortical circuitries between adolescent painful symptomatology and adult pain chronicity, with the subthalamic pathway being differentially involved, potentially due to a hyperconnected thalamo-cortical pathway in chronic pain and ontogeny-driven organization. This can inform neuromodulation-based prevention and early intervention.