Fibromyalgia is associated with decreased connectivity between pain- and sensorimotor brain areas

Brain Connect. 2014 Oct;4(8):587-94. doi: 10.1089/brain.2014.0274. Epub 2014 Aug 7.


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a syndrome characterized by chronic pain without known peripheral causes. Previously, we have reported dysfunctional pain inhibitory mechanisms for FM patients during pain administration. In this study we employed a seed correlation analysis, independent component analysis (ICA), and an analysis of fractional amplitude of low frequency fluctuations (fALFF) to study differences between a cohort of female FM patients and an age- and sex-matched healthy control group during a resting-state condition. FM patients showed decreased connectivity between thalamus and premotor areas, between the right insula and primary sensorimotor areas, and between supramarginal and prefrontal areas. Individual sensitivity to painful pressure was associated with increased connectivity between pain-related regions (e.g., insula and thalamus) and midline regions of the default mode network (including posterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex) among patients and controls. However, neither ICA nor fALFF revealed any group differences. Our findings suggest that abnormal connectivity patterns between pain-related regions and the remaining brain during rest reflect an impaired central mechanism of pain modulation in FM. Weaker coupling between pain regions and prefrontal- and sensorimotor areas might indicate a less efficient system level control of pain circuits. Moreover, our results show that multiple, complementary analytical approaches are valuable for obtaining a more comprehensive characterization of deviant resting-state activity. In conclusion, our findings show that FM primarily is associated with decreased connectivity, for example, between several pain-related areas and sensorimotor regions, which could reflect a deficiency in pain regulation.

Keywords: brain connectivity; fMRI; fibromyalgia; pain; resting-state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Rest / physiology
  • Sensorimotor Cortex / physiopathology
  • Thalamus / physiopathology
  • Young Adult