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Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2011 Jun;261(4):267-75. doi: 10.1007/s00406-010-0148-4. Epub 2010 Oct 6.

Dysfunctional pain modulation in somatoform pain disorder patients.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, General Hospital of Vienna, Medical University of Vienna, Währinger-Gürtel 18-20, Vienna, Austria.

Erratum in

  • Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2011 Jun;261(4):309. Stefanie, Klug [corrected to Klug, Stefanie]; Peter, Anderer [corrected to Anderer, Peter];Gerda, Saletu-Zyhlarz [corrected to Saletu-Zyhlarz, Gerda]; Marion, Freidl [corrected to Freidl, Marion]; Bernd, Saletu [corrected to Saletu, Bernd]; Wolfgang, Prause [corrected to Prause, Wolfgang]; Martin, Aigner [corrected to Aigner, Martin].


To date, pain perception is thought to be a creative process of modulation carried out by an interplay of pro- and anti-nociceptive mechanisms. Recent research demonstrates that pain experience constitutes the result of top-down processes represented in cortical descending pain modulation. Cortical, mainly medial and frontal areas, as well as subcortical structures such as the brain stem, medulla and thalamus seem to be key players in pain modulation. An imbalance of pro- and anti-nociceptive mechanisms are assumed to cause chronic pain disorders, which are associated with spontaneous pain perception without physiologic scaffolding or exaggerated cortical activation in response to pain exposure. In contrast to recent investigations, the aim of the present study was to elucidate cortical activation of somatoform pain disorder patients during baseline condition. Scalp EEG, quantitative Fourier-spectral analyses and LORETA were employed to compare patient group (N = 15) to age- and sex-matched controls (N = 15) at rest. SI, SII, ACC, SMA, PFC, PPC, insular, amygdale and hippocampus displayed significant spectral power reductions within the beta band range (12-30 Hz). These results suggest decreased cortical baseline arousal in somatoform pain disorder patients. We finally conclude that obtained results may point to an altered baseline activity, maybe characteristic for chronic somatoform pain disorder.

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