Event-related fMRI of pain: entering a new era in imaging pain

Neuroreport. 1998 Sep 14;9(13):3019-23. doi: 10.1097/00001756-199809140-00018.


Previous imaging studies of pain used a block design of prolonged (up to 1 min) noxious stimulation that are not well tolerated and subject to temporal interactions. We describe an adaptation of event-related fMRI to study pain with short duration stimuli. Functional images were acquired with a spiral sequence on a 1.5T GE echospeed MRI system of the thalamus, anterior cingulate, insula and second somatosensory cortex during brief (1-3 s) noxious thermal stimulation of the hand of normal volunteers. An MRI-compatible computerized rating system continuously monitored subjects' pain. Brief pain-related activations were clearly identified in the cortex and thalamus with a hemodynamic delay of 3-6 s. These findings demonstrate that brief stimuli combined with on-line pain ratings can be used to study pain with fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Cold Temperature
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Physical Stimulation / instrumentation
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology
  • Thalamus / physiology
  • Time Factors