Understanding Chronic Pain Severity
The journal of PAIN published an article in which researchers investigated how men and women differed in functional brain network organization. Using graph theory, modular analysis, and machine learning, the researchers looked at resting-state-functional MRI data from 220 participants (155 healthy, 65 with chronic low back pain from ankylosing spondylitis). The researchers “found an extensive overlap in the graph partitions with the major brain intrinsic systems (ie, default mode, central, visual, and sensorimotor modules), but also sex-specific network topological characteristics in healthy people and those with chronic pain.”
Of particular interest, “Classification models on nodal graph metrics could classify an individual's sex and whether they have chronic pain with high accuracies (77%-92%).” In women, “…higher functional segregation in the mid cingulate cortex and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex and lower connectivity in the network with the default mode and frontoparietal modules” was seen. In men, there was a “stronger connectivity with the sensorimotor module.” The study concluded that “the organizational abnormalities of resting-state-brain networks in people with chronic pain and provide a framework to consider sex-specific pain therapeutics.”
Access the journal article.
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