Evidence from brain imaging with fMRI supporting functional specificity of acupoints in humans

Neurosci Lett. 2004 Jan 2;354(1):50-3. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2003.09.080.


We tested whether the stimulation of acupoints in the same spinal segments could induce different central responses with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study. Stimulation of acupoints ST36/SP6 (Zusanli/Sanyinjiao) or GB34/BL57 (Yanglingquan/Chengshan) both activated primary and secondary somatosensory area, insula, ventral thalamus, parietal Brodmann Area 40, temporal lobe, putamen, and cerebellum, while de-activated amygdala. Nevertheless, ST36/SP6 stimulation specifically activated orbital frontal cortex and de-activated hippocampus. Alternatively, stimulation of GB34/BL57 activated dorsal thalamus and inhibited those of primary motor area and premotor cortex. Thus, stimulation of acupoints in the same spinal segments induced distinct though overlapped cerebral response patterns, which indicated the existence of acupoint specificity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Electroacupuncture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / innervation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Neostriatum / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology
  • Ventral Thalamic Nuclei / physiology