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Neuroreport. 2004 Jun 7;15(8):1245-8.

Modulation of thermal pain-related brain activity with virtual reality: evidence from fMRI.

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Human Interface Technology Lab, and Department of Radiology, Box 352142, University of Washington, 1959 NE Pacific, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


This study investigated the neural correlates of virtual reality analgesia. Virtual reality significantly reduced subjective pain ratings (i.e. analgesia). Using fMRI, pain-related brain activity was measured for each participant during conditions of no virtual reality and during virtual reality (order randomized). As predicted, virtual reality significantly reduced pain-related brain activity in all five regions of interest; the anterior cingulate cortex, primary and secondary somatosensory cortex, insula, and thalamus (p<0.002, corrected). Results showed direct modulation of human brain pain responses by virtual reality distraction.

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