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Papers of the Week

Papers: 12 Aug 2023 - 18 Aug 2023

Basic Science, Psychology

Human Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Neuroimaging, Sex Differences


2023 Aug 10

Biol Psychol


Resilience is associated with cortical gray matter of the antinociceptive pathway in people with chronic pain.


Hector MS, Cheng JC, Hemington KS, Rogachov A, Kim JA, Osborne NR, Bosma RL, Fauchon C, Ayoub LJ, Inman R, Oh J, Anastakis DJ, Davis KD


Resilience is an important personal characteristic that influences health and recovery. Previous studies of chronic pain suggest that highly resilient people may be more effective at modulating their pain. Since brain gray matter in the antinociceptive pathway has also been shown to be abnormal in people with chronic pain, we examined whether resilience is related to gray matter in regions of interest (ROIs) of the antinociceptive pathway (rostral and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (rACC, sgACC), anterior insula (aINS), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC)) normally and in people who are experiencing chronic pain. We extracted gray matter volume (GMV) and cortical thickness (CT) from 3T MRIs of 88 people with chronic pain (half males/females) and 86 healthy controls (HCs), who completed The Resilience Scale and Brief Pain Inventory. We found that resilience scores were significantly lower in people with chronic pain compared to HCs, whereas ROI GMV and CT were not different between groups. Resilience negatively correlated with average pain scores and positively correlated with GMV in the bilateral rACC, sgACC, and left dlPFC of people with chronic pain. Mediation analyses revealed that GMV in the right rACC and left sgACC partially co-mediated the relationship between resilience and average pain in people with chronic pain. The resilience-pain and some resilience-GMV relationships were sex-dependent. These findings suggest that the antinociceptive pathway may play a role in the impact of resilience on one’s ability to modulate chronic pain. A better understanding of the brain-resilience relationship may help advance evidence-based approaches to pain management.