I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 24 Jun 2023 - 30 Jun 2023

Clinical, Psychology

Human Studies, Neurobiology

Inflammation/Inflammatory, Musculoskeletal Pain, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 Jun 21

J Pain


Dysfunctional Activation of the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex During Pain Anticipation Is Associated With Altered Subsequent Pain Experience in Fibromyalgia Patients.


Sandström A, Ellerbrock I, Tour J, Kadetoff D, Jensen K, Kosek E


The ability to accurately predict pain is an adaptive feature in healthy individuals. However, in chronic pain, this mechanism may be selectively impaired and can lead to increased anxiety and excessive avoidance behavior. Recently, we reported the first data demonstrating brain activation in fibromyalgia (FM) patients during conditioned pain responses, in which FM patients revealed a tendency to form new pain-related associations rather than extinguishing irrelevant ones. The aim of the present study was to extend our previous analysis, to elucidate potential neural divergences between subjects with FM (n = 65) and healthy controls (HCs) (n = 33) during anticipatory information (ie, prior to painful stimulus onset). Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the current analyses include 1) a congruently cued paradigm of low and high pain predictive cues, followed by 2) an incongruently cued paradigm where low and high pain predictive cues were followed by an identical mid-intensity painful pressure. During incongruently cued high-pain associations, FM exhibited reduced left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) activation compared to HCs, which was followed by an altered subsequent pain experience in FM, as patients continued to rate the following painful stimuli as high, even though the pressure had been lowered. During congruently cued low pain anticipation, FM exhibited decreased right dlPFC activation compared to HCs, as well as decreased brain connectivity between brain regions implicated in cognitive modulation of pain (dlPFC) and nociceptive processing (primary somatosensory cortex/postcentral gyrus [S1] and supplementary motor area [SMA]/midcingulate cortex [MCC]). These results may reflect an important feature of validating low pain expectations in HCs and help elucidate behavioral reports of impaired safety processing in FM patients. PERSPECTIVE: FM exhibited a stronger conditioned pain response for high-pain associations, which was associated with reduced dlPFC activation during the incongruent trial. During (congruent and incongruent) low pain associations, FM dlPFC brain activation remained indifferent. Imbalances in threat and safety pain perception may be an important target for psychotherapeutic interventions.