Brain activation in response to bladder filling in healthy adults: An activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies

Neurourol Urodyn. 2017 Apr;36(4):960-965. doi: 10.1002/nau.23058. Epub 2016 Jul 1.


Aims: Recent studies have used different neuroimaging techniques and identified various brain regions that are activated during bladder filling. However, there is a lack of consensus regarding which of these brain regions regulate the process of urine storage. The aim of this meta-analysis is to identify brain regions that are commonly activated during bladder filling in healthy adults across different studies.

Methods: PubMed was searched for neuroimaging studies investigating the effects of bladder filling on regional brain activation. Studies were excluded if they did not report brain activation differences from whole-brain group analysis by comparing the state of bladder filling with the state of bladder rest. The current version of the activation likelihood estimation (ALE) approach was used for meta-analysis.

Results: We identified 14 neuroimaging studies examining brain activation in response to experimental bladder filling in 181 healthy subjects, which reported 89 foci for ALE analysis. The meta-analysis revealed significant activation in multiple brain regions including thalamus (bilaterally), right insula, cerebellum, and brainstem (bilaterally).

Conclusions: Several key brain regions involved in sensory processing are commonly activated during bladder filling in healthy adults across different studies. Neurourol. Urodynam. 36:960-965, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: brain; functional neuroimaging; meta-analysis; urinary bladder.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Neuroimaging
  • Urinary Bladder / physiology*