Brain resting state is disrupted in chronic back pain patients

Neurosci Lett. 2010 Nov 12;485(1):26-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2010.08.053. Epub 2010 Aug 26.


Recent brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have shown that chronic back pain (CBP) alters brain dynamics beyond the feeling of pain. In particular, the response of the brain default mode network (DMN) during an attention task was found abnormal. In the present work similar alterations are demonstrated for spontaneous resting patterns of fMRI brain activity over a population of CBP patients (n=12, 29-67 years old, mean=51.2). Results show abnormal correlations of three out of four highly connected sites of the DMN with bilateral insular cortex and regions in the middle frontal gyrus (p<0.05), in comparison with a control group of healthy subjects (n=20, 21-60 years old, mean=38.4). The alterations were confirmed by the calculation of triggered averages, which demonstrated increased coactivation of the DMN and the former regions. These findings demonstrate that CBP disrupts normal activity in the DMN even during the brain resting state, highlighting the impact of enduring pain over brain structure and function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Back Pain / physiopathology*
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Rest*


  • Oxygen