Differences in brain activation in experimentally induced and chronic neuropathic pain conditions are useful for understanding central mechanisms leading to chronic neuropathic pain. Many mapping studies investigating both pain conditions are now available, and the latest tools for coordinate-based meta-analysis offer the possibility of random effects statistics. We performed a meta-analysis based on a literature search of published functional magnetic resonance imaging group studies to compare patterns of activity during experimentally induced and chronic neuropathic pain, for the later including four fibromyalgia studies. Stimulus-dependent activation in experimental pain was further divided into "thermal" and "non thermal" stimuli. A conjunction of experimentally induced and chronic neuropathic pain revealed activation of the bilateral secondary somatosensory cortex, right middle cingulate cortex, right inferior parietal lobe, supplementary motor area, right caudal anterior insula, and bilateral thalamus. Primary somatosensory activation was only observed during experimental non-thermal stimulation. Chronic neuropathic pain studies showed increased activation in the left secondary somatosensory cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and right caudal anterior insula when compared to experimentally induced pain. Activation clusters in the anterior cingulate cortex and caudal anterior insula suggest a strong emotional contribution to the processing of chronic neuropathic pain.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.