Resting-state connectivity in the default mode network and insula during experimental low back pain

Shanshan Zhang, Wen Wu, Guozhi Huang, Ziping Liu, Shigui Guo, Jianming Yang, Kangling Wang
Neural Regeneration Research 2014 January 15, 9 (2): 135-42
Functional magnetic resonance imaging studies have shown that the insular cortex has a significant role in pain identification and information integration, while the default mode network is associated with cognitive and memory-related aspects of pain perception. However, changes in the functional connectivity between the default mode network and insula during pain remain unclear. This study used 3.0 T functional magnetic resonance imaging scans in 12 healthy subjects aged 24.8 ± 3.3 years to compare the differences in the functional activity and connectivity of the insula and default mode network between the baseline and pain condition induced by intramuscular injection of hypertonic saline. Compared with the baseline, the insula was more functionally connected with the medial prefrontal and lateral temporal cortices, whereas there was lower connectivity with the posterior cingulate cortex, precuneus and inferior parietal lobule in the pain condition. In addition, compared with baseline, the anterior cingulate cortex exhibited greater connectivity with the posterior insula, but lower connectivity with the anterior insula, during the pain condition. These data indicate that experimental low back pain led to dysfunction in the connectivity between the insula and default mode network resulting from an impairment of the regions of the brain related to cognition and emotion, suggesting the importance of the interaction between these regions in pain processing.

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