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Neuroimage. 2009 Mar 1;45(1):169-80. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.10.024. Epub 2008 Nov 5.

Brain activity associated with the electrodermal reactivity to acute heat pain.

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Département de psychologie, Université de Montréal, Canada.


Pain is associated with the activation of many brain areas involved in the multiple dimensions of the experience. Several of those brain areas may also contribute to the monitoring and regulation of autonomic activity but this aspect of pain responses has been largely overlooked in human imaging studies. This functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study relied on blood-oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal to investigate subject-related differences in brain activity associated with the individual differences in electrodermal responses evoked by 30 s noxious (pain) and innocuous (warm) thermal stimuli. Pain-related activity (pain-warm) was found in the thalamus, somatosensory cortices (leg area of SI/MI, SII, and insula), the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and the amygdala. Brain activation related to stimulus-evoked electrodermal activity was identified by modeling the predicted BOLD responses with the magnitude of each subject's skin conductance reactivity. Subjects showing larger skin conductance reactivity to the innocuous and/or noxious stimuli displayed larger stimulus-evoked brain responses in the somato-motor cortices (SI/MI, SII, and insula), the perigenual and supracallosal ACC, the orbitofrontal cortex and the medulla. Further analyses revealed brain activation more specifically associated with the pain-related skin conductance reactivity in the supracallosal ACC, amygdala, thalamus, and hypothalamus. These findings demonstrate that individual differences in electrodermal reactivity partly reflect differences in pain-evoked brain responses, consistent with a role of these structures in the monitoring/regulation of pain-related autonomic processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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