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Eur J Pain. 2005 Oct;9(5):581-9. Epub 2005 Jan 20.

Intracerebral pain processing in a Yoga Master who claims not to feel pain during meditation.

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1
Department of Integrative Physiology, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Nishigo-Naka 38, Myodaiji, Okazaki 444-8585, Japan. kakigi@nips.ac.jp

Abstract

We recorded magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) following noxious laser stimulation in a Yoga Master who claims not to feel pain when meditating. As for background MEG activity, the power of alpha frequency bands peaking at around 10 Hz was much increased during meditation over occipital, parietal and temporal regions, when compared with the non-meditative state, which might mean the subject was very relaxed, though he did not fall asleep, during meditation. Primary pain-related cortical activities recorded from primary (SI) and secondary somatosensory cortices (SII) by MEG were very weak or absent during meditation. As for fMRI recording, there were remarkable changes in levels of activity in the thalamus, SII-insula (mainly the insula) and cingulate cortex between meditation and non-meditation. Activities in all three regions were increased during non-meditation, similar to results in normal subjects. In contrast, activities in all three regions were weaker during meditation, and the level was lower than the baseline in the thalamus. Recent neuroimaging and electrophysiological studies have clarified that the emotional aspect of pain perception mainly involves the insula and cingulate cortex. Though we cannot clearly explain this unusual condition in the Yoga Master, a change of multiple regions relating to pain perception could be responsible, since pain is a complex sensory and emotional experience.

PMID:
16139187
DOI:
10.1016/j.ejpain.2004.12.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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