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Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2006 Dec;102(6):750-7. Epub 2006 Jul 14.

Brain activity during stimulation of the trigeminal nerve with noxious heat.

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  • 1Orofacial Pain Center, College of Dentistry, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40536-0297, USA.



The aim of this study was to observe areas of brain activation with painful hot stimulation to the trigeminal nerve.


Nine healthy pain-free women (mean age 26.2 +/- 6.9 yrs) with a natural, regular menstrual cycle participated in the study. Whole-brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were acquired for each participant on day 2 or 3 after the onset of menses using echo-planar imaging at 1.5T with near-isotropic spatial resolution and a temporal resolution of 4 s.


Whole-brain fMRI with a Peltier thermode inside the head coil yielded a feasible imaging protocol with little disturbance from the thermode. Painful thermal stimulation of the left trigeminal system activated discrete brain regions within the insula, cingulate gyrus, thalamus, inferior parietal lobe/postcentral gyrus, right middle and inferior frontal gyri, cuneus, precuneus, and precentral gyrus.


Painful stimulation of the trigeminal nerve resulted in activation of similar brain areas generally known for pain processing of painful peripheral stimulation.

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