Cortical theta is increased while thalamocortical coherence is decreased in rat models of acute and chronic pain

Pain. 2014 Apr;155(4):773-782. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2014.01.013. Epub 2014 Jan 20.


Thalamocortical oscillations are critical for sensory perception. Although pain is known to disrupt synchrony in thalamocortical oscillations, evidence in the literature is controversial. Thalamocortical coherence has been reported to be increased in patients with neurogenic pain but decreased in a rat model of central pain. Moreover, theta (4 to 8 Hz) oscillations in primary somatosensory (S1) cortex are speculated to predict pain in humans. To date, the link between pain and network oscillations in animal models has been understudied. Thus, we tested the hypothesis that pain disrupts thalamocortical coherence and S1 theta power in two rat models of pain. We recorded electrocorticography (ECoG) waveforms over S1 and local field potentials (LFP) within ventral posterolateral thalamus in freely behaving rats under spontaneous (stimulus-independent) pain conditions. Rats received intradermal capsaicin injection (Cap) in the hindpaw, followed hours later by chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve lasting several days. Our results show that pain decreases coherence between LFP and ECoG waveforms in the 2- to 30-Hz range, and increases ECoG power in the theta range. These changes are short-lasting after Cap and longer-lasting after CCI. These data might be particularly relevant to preclinical correlates of spontaneous pain-like behavior, with potential implications to clinical biomarkers of ongoing pain.

Keywords: Coherence; Cortex; ECoG; LFP; Oscillation; Pain; Power; S1; Thalamus; Theta; VPL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Pain / pathology*
  • Acute Pain / physiopathology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Chronic Pain / pathology*
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Electroencephalography
  • Hyperalgesia / pathology
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Thalamus / physiopathology*
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Capsaicin