The experience of pain can be significantly influenced by expectancy (predictive cues). This ability to modulate pain has the potential to affect therapeutic analgesia substantially and constitutes a foundation for nonpharmacological pain relief. In this study, we investigated (1) brain regions involved in visual cue modulation of pain during anticipation of pain, pain administration, and pain rating; and (2) the association between pretest resting state functional connectivity and the magnitude of cue effects on pain ratings. We found that after cue conditioning, visual cues can significantly modulate subjective pain ratings. Functional magnetic resonance imaging results suggested that brain regions pertaining to the frontoparietal network (prefrontal and parietal cortex) and a pain/emotion modulatory region (rostral anterior cingulate cortex) are involved in cue modulation during both pain anticipation and administration stage. Most interestingly, we found that pretest resting state functional connectivity between the frontoparietal network (as identified by independent component analysis) and the rostral anterior cingulate cortex/medial prefrontal cortex was positively associated with cue effects on pain rating changes. We believe that these findings will shed new light on our understanding of variable cue/expectancy effects across individuals and how the intrinsic connectivity of the brain may influence expectancy-induced modulation of pain.
Copyright © 2012 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.