Different brain areas activated during imagery of painful and non-painful «finger movements» in a subject with an amputated arm

Research Area: Research Year: 2001
Type of Publication: Article
Authors: Rosen, G; Hugdahl, Kenneth; Ersland, Lars; Lundervold, A; Smievoll, A I; Barndon, Roger; Sundberg, Håkan; Thomsen, T; Roscher, B E; Tjølsen, A; Engelsen, B
The purpose of the present study was to investigate differences in brain activation with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during imagery of painful and non-painful 'finger movements' and 'hand positioning' in a subject with an amputated arm. The subject was a right-handed man in his mid-thirties who lost his right arm just above the elbow in a car-train accident. MRI was performed with a 1.5 T Siemens Vision Plus scanner. The basic design involved four conditions: imagining 'painful finger movements', 'non-painful finger movements', 'painful hand positioning', 'non-painful hand positioning'. Imagery of finger movements uniquely activated the contralateral primary motor cortex which contains the classic 'hand area'. The lateral part of the anterior cerebellar lobe was also activated during imagery of finger movements. Imagery of pain uniquely activated the somatosensory area, and areas in the left insula and bilaterally in the ventral posterior lateral nucleus of the thalamus. It is suggested that the insula and thalamus may involve neuronal pathways that are critical for mental processing of pain-related experiences, which may relate to a better understanding of the neurobiology of phantom limb pain.
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