Prefrontal gamma oscillations reflect ongoing pain intensity in chronic back pain patients

May, E. S., Nickel, M. M., Ta Dinh, S., Tiemann, L., Heitmann, H., Voth, I., Tölle, T. R., Gross, J. and Ploner, M. (2019) Prefrontal gamma oscillations reflect ongoing pain intensity in chronic back pain patients. Human Brain Mapping, 40(1), pp. 293-305. (doi: 10.1002/hbm.24373) (PMID:30260531) (PMCID:PMC6585682)

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Abstract

Chronic pain is a major health care issue characterized by ongoing pain and a variety of sensory, cognitive, and affective abnormalities. The neural basis of chronic pain is still not completely understood. Previous work has implicated prefrontal brain areas in chronic pain. Furthermore, prefrontal neuronal oscillations at gamma frequencies (60–90 Hz) have been shown to reflect the perceived intensity of longer lasting experimental pain in healthy human participants. In contrast, noxious stimulus intensity has been related to alpha (8–13 Hz) and beta (14–29 Hz) oscillations in sensorimotor areas. However, it is not fully understood how the intensity of ongoing pain as the key symptom of chronic pain is represented in the human brain. Here, we asked 31 chronic back pain patients to continuously rate their ongoing pain while simultaneously recording electroencephalography (EEG). Time–frequency analyses revealed a positive association between ongoing pain intensity and prefrontal beta and gamma oscillations. No association was found between pain and alpha or beta oscillations in sensorimotor areas. These findings indicate that ongoing pain as the key symptom of chronic pain is reflected by neuronal oscillations implicated in the subjective perception of longer lasting pain rather than by neuronal oscillations related to the processing of objective nociceptive input. The findings, thus, support a dissociation of pain intensity from nociceptive processing in chronic back pain patients. Furthermore, although possible confounds by muscle activity have to be taken into account, they might be useful for defining a neurophysiological marker of ongoing pain in the human brain.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gross, Professor Joachim
Authors: May, E. S., Nickel, M. M., Ta Dinh, S., Tiemann, L., Heitmann, H., Voth, I., Tölle, T. R., Gross, J., and Ploner, M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Human Brain Mapping
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:1065-9471
ISSN (Online):1097-0193
Published Online:10 September 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Human Brain Mapping 40(1): 293-305
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 (WELLCOTR)098433/Z/12/ZINP - CENTRE FOR COGNITIVE NEUROIMAGING