Prefrontal gamma oscillations encode tonic pain in humans

Schulz, E., May, E. S., Postorino, M., Tiemann, L., Nickel, M. M., Witkovsky, V., Schmidt, P., Gross, J. and Ploner, M. (2015) Prefrontal gamma oscillations encode tonic pain in humans. Cerebral Cortex, 25(11), pp. 4407-4414. (doi:10.1093/cercor/bhv043) (PMID:25754338) (PMCID:PMC4816790)

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Abstract

Under physiological conditions, momentary pain serves vital protective functions. Ongoing pain in chronic pain states, on the other hand, is a pathological condition that causes widespread suffering and whose treatment remains unsatisfactory. The brain mechanisms of ongoing pain are largely unknown. In this study, we applied tonic painful heat stimuli of varying degree to healthy human subjects, obtained continuous pain ratings, and recorded electroencephalograms to relate ongoing pain to brain activity. Our results reveal that the subjective perception of tonic pain is selectively encoded by gamma oscillations in the medial prefrontal cortex. We further observed that the encoding of subjective pain intensity experienced by the participants differs fundamentally from that of objective stimulus intensity and from that of brief pain stimuli. These observations point to a role for gamma oscillations in the medial prefrontal cortex in ongoing, tonic pain and thereby extend current concepts of the brain mechanisms of pain to the clinically relevant state of ongoing pain. Furthermore, our approach might help to identify a brain marker of ongoing pain, which may prove useful for the diagnosis and therapy of chronic pain.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gross, Professor Joachim
Authors: Schulz, E., May, E. S., Postorino, M., Tiemann, L., Nickel, M. M., Witkovsky, V., Schmidt, P., Gross, J., and Ploner, M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Cerebral Cortex
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1047-3211
ISSN (Online):1460-2199
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 The Authors
First Published:First published in Cerebral Cortex 25(11):4407-4414
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
597051Natural and modulated neural communication: State-dependent decoding and driving of human Brain Oscillations.Joachim GrossWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)098433/Z/12/ZINP - CENTRE FOR COGNITIVE NEUROIMAGING