Breaking down the barriers: fMRI applications in pain, analgesia and analgesics
David Borsook1 ,2 and Lino R Becerra1
1P.A.I.N. Group, Brain Imaging Center, Department of Psychiatry, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
2Athinoula Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
This review summarizes functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) findings that have informed our current understanding of pain, analgesia and related phenomena, and discusses the potential role of fMRI in improved therapeutic approaches to pain. It is divided into 3 main sections: (1) fMRI studies of acute and chronic pain. Physiological studies of pain have found numerous regions of the brain to be involved in the interpretation of the 'pain experience'; studies in chronic pain conditions have identified a significant CNS component; and fMRI studies of surrogate models of chronic pain are also being used to further this understanding. (2) fMRI studies of endogenous pain processing including placebo, empathy, attention or cognitive modulation of pain. (3) The use of fMRI to evaluate the effects of analgesics on brain function in acute and chronic pain. fMRI has already provided novel insights into the neurobiology of pain. These insights should significantly advance therapeutic approaches to chronic pain.
Molecular Pain 2006, 2:30. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.