Altered neural oscillations within and between sensorimotor cortex and parietal cortex in chronic jaw pain.

Affiliation

Laboratory for Rehabilitation Neuroscience, Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States of America. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Pain perception is associated with priming of the motor system and the orienting of attention in healthy adults. These processes correspond with decreases in alpha and beta power in the sensorimotor and parietal cortices. The goal of the present study was to determine whether these findings extend to individuals with chronic pain. Individuals with chronic jaw pain and pain-free controls anticipated and experienced a low pain or a moderate pain-eliciting heat stimulus. Although stimuli were calibrated for each subject, stimulus temperature was not different between groups. High-density EEG data were collected during the anticipation and heat stimulation periods and were analyzed using independent component analyses, EEG source localization, and measure projection analyses. Direct directed transfer function was also estimated to identify frequency specific effective connectivity between regions. Between group differences were most evident during the heat stimulation period. We report three novel findings. First, the chronic jaw pain group had a relative increase in alpha and beta power and a relative decrease in theta and gamma power in sensorimotor cortex. Second, the chronic jaw pain group had a relative increase in power in the alpha and beta bands in parietal cortex. Third, the chronic jaw pain group had less connectivity strength in the beta and gamma bands between sensorimotor cortex and parietal cortex. Our findings show that the effect of chronic pain attenuates rather than magnifies neural responses to heat stimuli. We interpret these findings in the context of system-level changes in intrinsic sensorimotor and attentional circuits in chronic pain.

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