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Sensors 2019, 19(2), 394;

Cortical Network Response to Acupuncture and the Effect of the Hegu Point: An fNIRS Study

Human-Centred Technology Research Centre, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Canberra, Canberra 2617, Australia
Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology, Kaohsiung 80778, Taiwan
Department of Dentistry, Taipei Medical University Hospital, Taipei 110, Taiwan
Department of Dentistry, Taipei Medical University-Shuang Ho Hospital, New Taipei City 235, Taiwan
School of Dentistry, Health Sciences University of Hokkaido, Hokkaido 061-0293, Japan
Department of Prosthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, Hasanuddin University, Makassar 90245, Indonesia
Department of Prosthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta 55281, Indonesia
Department of Oral Hygiene Care, Ching Kuo Institute of Management and Health, Keelung 203, Taiwan
3D Global Biotech Inc., New Taipei City 221, Taiwan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Current address: School of Engineering and Information Technology, University of New South Wales, Canberra 2612, Australia.
Received: 27 November 2018 / Revised: 9 January 2019 / Accepted: 9 January 2019 / Published: 18 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomedical Infrared Imaging: From Sensors to Applications)
PDF [3571 KB, uploaded 21 January 2019]


Acupuncture is a practice of treatment based on influencing specific points on the body by inserting needles. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the aim of acupuncture treatment for pain management is to use specific acupoints to relieve excess, activate qi (or vital energy), and improve blood circulation. In this context, the Hegu point is one of the most widely-used acupoints for this purpose, and it has been linked to having an analgesic effect. However, there exists considerable debate as to its scientific validity. In this pilot study, we aim to identify the functional connectivity related to the three main types of acupuncture manipulations and also identify an analgesic effect based on the hemodynamic response as measured by functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). The cortical response of eleven healthy subjects was obtained using fNIRS during an acupuncture procedure. A multiscale analysis based on wavelet transform coherence was employed to assess the functional connectivity of corresponding channel pairs within the left and right somatosensory region. The wavelet analysis was focused on the very-low frequency oscillations (VLFO, 0.01–0.08 Hz) and the low frequency oscillations (LFO, 0.08–0.15 Hz). A mixed model analysis of variance was used to appraise statistical differences in the wavelet domain for the different acupuncture stimuli. The hemodynamic response after the acupuncture manipulations exhibited strong activations and distinctive cortical networks in each stimulus. The results of the statistical analysis showed significant differences ( p < 0.05 ) between the tasks in both frequency bands. These results suggest the existence of different stimuli-specific cortical networks in both frequency bands and the anaesthetic effect of the Hegu point as measured by fNIRS. View Full-Text
Keywords: pain; Hegu point; acupoints; connectivity; NIRS; repeated measures; anaesthesia; nociception; pain perception pain; Hegu point; acupoints; connectivity; NIRS; repeated measures; anaesthesia; nociception; pain perception

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Fernandez Rojas, R.; Liao, M.; Romero, J.; Huang, X.; Ou, K.-L. Cortical Network Response to Acupuncture and the Effect of the Hegu Point: An fNIRS Study. Sensors 2019, 19, 394.

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