Special Issue "Functional Neuroimaging of Pain"
A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2016) | Viewed by 21896
2. Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada
3. Department of Physics, Queen's University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada
Interests: functional MRI; neuroimaging; methods; analysis; spinal cord; brainstem; pain; spinal cord injury; connectivity
Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, and research into understanding pain, and aberrant pain conditions, presents many challenges. These challenges arise in part from the need to carry out human studies, so as to investigate the integrated system that results in pain, including the cognitive/emotional component. In addition, pain depends on an extensive network spanning from the spinal cord, with ascending pathways signaling sensory qualities, and descending pathways providing modulation of pain from cortical and upper brainstem regions. These regions are inaccessible in human research participants, except by means of non-invasive neuroimaging methods. Pain results from a balance of inhibitory and facilitory neuronal signalings, which regulate pain sensitivity, and adjust it, depending on the situation. This balance results in pain being highly variable across individuals. It is expected that many chronic pain conditions result from an imbalance of these inhibitory and facilitory mechanisms. A number of currently used methods, such as quantitative sensory testing, provide methods of probing human pain responses and of characterizing changes with chronic pain conditions, but do not reveal the underlying neuronal processes.
In the past few decades, functional neuroimaging has significantly advanced our understanding of pain processes. Prior to non-invasive neuroimaging methods, our understanding of the role of the brain in pain processing was limited, and was based largely on animal electrophysiological studies and quantitative sensory testing. Functional neuroimaging, such as fMRI and PET, has revolutionized our understanding of human pain processing by making the cortex accessible. Functional MRI has also been extended to the spinal cord and brainstem, so as to make the entire human CNS accessible. With the advances in our understanding of pain processing in recent decades, and advances in methods of non-invasively detecting the underlying neural processes in different pain conditions or chronic pain states, we have a wealth of tools available for research into understanding debilitating pain conditions and developing new capabilities for diagnosis and treatment.
Prof. Dr. Patrick W. Stroman
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- spinal cord