The dynamic pain connectome

Trends Neurosci. 2015 Feb;38(2):86-95. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2014.11.006. Epub 2014 Dec 22.


Traditionally, studies of how pain and attention modulate one another involved explicit cognitive-state manipulations. However, emerging evidence suggests that spontaneous brain-wide network communication is intrinsically dynamic on multiple timescales, and attentional states are in constant fluctuation. Here, in light of studies on neural mechanisms of spontaneous attentional fluctuations and pain variability, we introduce the concept of a dynamic 'pain connectome' in the brain. We describe how recent progress in our understanding of individual differences in intrinsic attention to pain and neural network dynamics in chronic pain can facilitate development of personalized pain therapies. Furthermore, we emphasize that the dynamics of pain-attention interactions must be accounted for in the contemporary search for a 'neural signature' of the pain connectome.

Keywords: antinociception; brain connectivity; default mode network; dynamic functional connectivity; mind wandering; salience network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Connectome*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*