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Neurotoxicology. 2012 Jun;33(3):261-71. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2012.01.014. Epub 2012 Feb 4.

FMRI reveals abnormal central processing of sensory and pain stimuli in ill Gulf War veterans.

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Department of Radiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390, United States.


Many veterans chronically ill from the 1991 Gulf War exhibit symptoms of altered sensation, including chronic pain. In this study of 55 veterans of a Construction Battalion previously examined in 1995-1996 and 1997-1998, brain activation to innocuous and noxious heat stimuli was assessed in 2008-2009 with a quantitative sensory testing fMRI protocol in control veterans and groups representing three syndrome variants. Testing outside the scanner revealed no significant differences in warm detection or heat pain threshold among the four groups. In the fMRI study, Syndrome 1 and Syndrome 2, but not Syndrome 3, exhibited hypo-activation to innocuous heat and hyper-activation to noxious heat stimuli compared to controls. The results indicate abnormal central processing of sensory and painful stimuli in 2 of 3 variants of Gulf War illness and call for a more comprehensive study with a larger, representative sample of veterans.

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