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New perspectives in EEG/MEG brain mapping and PET/fMRI neuroimaging of human pain

New perspectives in EEG/MEG brain mapping and PET/fMRI neuroimaging of human pain

Authors: 
A.C.N. Chen
Year: 
2001
Journal: 
International Journal of Psychophysiology
Abstract: 

With the maturation of EEG/MEGbrainmapping and PET/fMRIneuroimaging in the 1990s, greater understanding of pain processing in the brain now elucidates and may even challenge the classical theory of pain mechanisms. This review scans across the cultural diversity of pain expression and modulation in man. It outlines the difficulties in defining and studying humanpain. It then focuses on methods of studying the brain in experimental and clinical pain, the cohesive results of brainmapping and neuroimaging of noxious perception, the implication of pain research in understanding human consciousness and the relevance to clinical care as well as to the basic science of human psychophysiology. Non-invasive brain studies in man start to unveil the age-old puzzles of pain-illusion, hypnosis and placebo in pain modulation. The neurophysiological and neurohemodynamic brain measures of experimental pain can now largely satisfy the psychophysiologist's dream, unimaginable only a few years ago, of modelling the body–brain, brain–mind, mind–matter duality in an inter-linking 3-P triad: physics (stimulus energy); physiology (brain activities); and psyche (perception). For neuropsychophysiology greater challenges lie ahead: (a) how to integrate a cohesive theory of humanpain in the brain; (b) what levels of analyses are necessary and sufficient; (c) what constitutes the structural organisation of the pain matrix; (d) what are the modes of processing among and across the sites of these structures; and (e) how can neural computation of these processes in the brain be carried out? We may envision that modular identification and delineation of the arousal–attention, emotion–motivation and perception–cognition neural networks of pain processing in the brain will also lead to deeper understanding of the human mind. Two foreseeable impacts on clinical sciences and basic theories from brainmapping/neuroimaging are the plausible central origin in persistent pain and integration of sensory–motor function in pain perception.

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