| back pain

The Corticostriatal Circuit in Chronic Pain


Information in a preprint article, as yet not peer reviewed, aims to better understand the brain’s reward system via the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) circuits. Via fMRI, researchers compared healthy controls and patients with fibromyalgia, looking at NAcc medial prefrontal cortexes (MPFC), functional connectivity, and a subset of data from chronic back pain patients. Results indicated alterations in the complex brain valuation system. The study states, “patients with fibromyalgia demonstrate greater MPFC activity during avoidance of punishment, and reduced MPFC activity during anticipation of reward.” This study had a small number of patients: 17 with fibromyalgia and 17 healthy controls. Results were obtained via questionnaires.

The study concluded that “The absence of significant group differences in NAcc-MPFC functional connectivity during resting-state fMRI condition provides evidence supporting intact corticostriatal circuit functional connectivity in fibromyalgia. A comparison between our results and a separate dataset of patients with chronic back pain suggests putative impacts of variable cognitive demands and experiences on altered corticostriatal circuit connectivity in chronic pain. Our exploratory analyses underscore the presence of potentially widespread mesolimbic reward/valuation system alterations in fibromyalgia, and the need for future research to more fully understand the complex neural mechanisms associated with fibromyalgia.”


Read the preview article.

Holly Caster