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Characterizing the analgesic effects of real and imagined acupuncture using functional and structure MRI.


ABSTRACT: Acupuncture and imagery interventions for pain management have a long history. The present study comparatively investigated whether acupuncture and video-guided acupuncture imagery treatment (VGAIT, watching a video of acupuncture on the participant's own body while imagining it being applied) could modulate brain regional connectivity to produce analgesic effects. The study also examined whether pre-intervention brain functional and structural features could be used to predict the magnitude of analgesic effects. Twenty-four healthy participants were recruited and received four different interventions (real acupuncture, sham acupuncture, VGAIT, and VGAIT control) in random order using a cross-over design. Pain thresholds and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data were collected before and after each intervention. We first compared the modulatory effects of real acupuncture and VGAIT on intra- and inter-regional intrinsic brain connectivity and found that real acupuncture decreased regional homogeneity (ReHo) and functional connectivity (FC) in sensorimotor areas, whereas VGAIT increased ReHo in basal ganglia (BG) (i.e., putamen) and FC between the BG subcortical network and default mode network. The altered ReHo and FC were associated with changes in pain threshold after real acupuncture and VGAIT, respectively. A multimodality fusion approach with pre-intervention ReHo and gray matter volume (GMV) as features was used to explore the brain profiles underlying individual variability of pain threshold changes by real acupuncture and VGAIT. Variability in acupuncture responses was associated with ReHo and GMV in BG, whereas VGAIT responses were associated with ReHo and GMV in the anterior insula. These results suggest that, through different pathways, both real acupuncture and VGAIT can modulate brain systems to produce analgesic effects.

SUBMITTER: Cao J 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7738388 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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