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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Mar 3;95(5):2670-3.

New findings of the correlation between acupoints and corresponding brain cortices using functional MRI.

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Department of Radiological Sciences, Psychiatry, and Human Behavior, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.


A preliminary study of the correlation between acupuncture points (acupoints) for the treatment of eye disorders suggested by ancient Oriental literature and the corresponding brain localization for vision described by Western medicine was performed by using functional MRI (fMRI). The vision-related acupoint (VA1) is located in the lateral aspect of the foot, and when acupuncture stimulation is performed there, activation of occipital lobes is seen by fMRI. Stimulation of the eye by directly using light results in similar activation in the occipital lobes by fMRI. The experiment was conducted by using conventional checkerboard 8-Hz light-flash stimulation of the eye and observation of the time-course data. This was followed by stimulation of the VA1 by using the same time-course paradigm as visual light stimulation. Results obtained with 12 volunteers yielded very clean data and very close correlations between visual and acupuncture stimulation. We have also stimulated nonacupoints 2 to 5 cm away from the vision-related acupoints on the foot as a control, and activation in the occipital lobes was not observed. The results obtained demonstrate the correlation between activation of specific areas of brain cortices and corresponding acupoint stimulation predicted by ancient acupuncture literature.

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