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Neuroimage. 2006 Feb 15;29(4):1080-91. Epub 2005 Dec 1.

Mode and site of acupuncture modulation in the human brain: 3D (124-ch) EEG power spectrum mapping and source imaging.

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Center for Functional Human Brain Mapping, Capital University of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China.


This study determined: (a) if acupuncture stimulation at a traditional site might modulate ongoing EEG as compared with stimulation of a control site; (b) if high-frequency vs. low-frequency stimulation could exert differential effects of acupuncture; (c) if the observed effects of acupuncture were specific to certain EEG bands; and (d) if the acupuncture effect could be isolated at a specific scalp field, with its putative underlying intracranial source. Twelve healthy male volunteers (age range 22-35) participated in two experimental sessions separated by 1 week, which involved transcutaneous acupoint stimulation at selected acupoint (Li 4, HeGu) vs. a mock point at the fourth interosseous muscle area on the left hand in high (HF: 100 Hz) vs. low-frequency (LF: 2 Hz) stimulation by counter-balanced order. 124-ch EEG data were used to analyze the Delta, Theta, Alpha-1, Alpha-2, Beta, and Gamma bands. The absolute EEG powers (muv2) at focal maxima across three stages (baseline, stimulation, post) were examined by two-way (condition, stage) repeated measures ANOVA. The activity of the Theta power significantly decreased (P = 0.02), compared with control during HF but not LF stimulation at acupoint stimulation, however, there was no study effect at the mock point. A decreased Theta EEG power was prominent at the frontal midline sites (FCz, Fz) and the contralateral right hemisphere front site (FCC2h). In contrast, the Theta power of low-frequency stimulation showed an increase from the baseline as those in both controlled mock point stimulations. The observed high-frequency acupoint stimulation effects of Theta EEG were only present during, but not after, simulation. The topographic Theta activity was tentatively identified to originate from the intracranial current source in cingulate cortex, likely ACC. It is likely that short-term cortical plasticity occurs during high-frequency but not low-frequency stimulation at the HeGu point, but not mock point. We suggest that HeGu acupuncture stimulation modulates limbic cingulum by a frequency modulation mode, which then may damp nociceptive processing in the brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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