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Papers: 23 Mar 2024 - 29 Mar 2024

2024 Mar 13

J Clin Med




Towards a Real-Life Understanding of the Altered Functional Behaviour of the Default Mode and Salience Network in Chronic Pain: Are People with Chronic Pain Overthinking the Meaning of Their Pain?


Johansson E, Xiong HY, Polli A, Coppieters I, Nijs J


Chronic pain is a source of substantial physical and psychological suffering, yet a clear understanding of the pathogenesis of chronic pain is lacking. Repeated studies have reported an altered behaviour of the salience network (SN) and default mode network (DMN) in people with chronic pain, and a majority of these studies report an altered behaviour of the dorsal ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) within the anterior DMN. In this topical review, we therefore focus specifically on the role of the dorsal vmPFC in chronic pain to provide an updated perspective on the cortical mechanisms of chronic pain. We suggest that increased activity in the dorsal vmPFC may reflect maladaptive overthinking about the meaning of pain for oneself and one’s actions. We also suggest that such overthinking, if negative, may increase the personal “threat” of a given context, as possibly reflected by increased activity in, and functional connectivity to, the anterior insular cortex within the SN.