Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Trend: Rethinking (and treating) chronic pain as a brain disease

Can stim­u­lat­ing the brain treat chron­ic pain? (Sci­ence Dai­ly):

We’ve pub­lished numer­ous brain stim­u­la­tion papers over sev­er­al years, and we always learn some­thing impor­tant,” said senior author Flavio Frohlich, PhD, direc­tor of the Car­oli­na Cen­ter for Neu­rostim­u­la­tion and asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try. “But this is the first time we’ve stud­ied chron­ic pain, and this is the only time all three ele­ments of a study lined up per­fect­ly. We suc­cess­ful­ly tar­get­ed a spe­cif­ic brain region, we enhanced or restored that region’s activ­i­ty, and we cor­re­lat­ed that enhance­ment with a sig­nif­i­cant decrease in symp­toms”

Chron­ic pain is the lead­ing cause of dis­abil­i­ty in the world, but there is not con­sen­sus among sci­en­tists that brain activ­i­ty plays a causal role in the con­di­tion. Frohlich says the pain research field has focused large­ly on periph­er­al caus­es of chron­ic pain. For exam­ple, if you have chron­ic low­er back pain, then the cause and solu­tion lie in the low­er back and relat­ed parts of the ner­vous sys­tem in the spine. But some researchers and clin­i­cians believe chron­ic pain runs deep­er, that the con­di­tion can reor­ga­nize how cells in the ner­vous sys­tem com­mu­ni­cate with each oth­er, includ­ing net­works of neu­rons in the brain. Over time, the the­o­ry goes, these net­works get stuck in a kind of neur­al rut, essen­tial­ly becom­ing a cause of chron­ic pain.”

The Study:

Iden­ti­fy­ing and Engag­ing Neu­ronal Oscil­la­tions by Tran­scra­nial Alter­nat­ing Cur­rent Stim­u­la­tion in Patients With Chron­ic Low Back Pain: A Ran­dom­ized, Crossover, Dou­ble-Blind, Sham-Con­trolled Pilot Study

Abstract: Chron­ic pain is asso­ci­at­ed with mal­adap­tive reor­ga­ni­za­tion of the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem. Recent stud­ies have sug­gest­ed that dis­or­ga­ni­za­tion of large-scale elec­tri­cal brain activ­i­ty pat­terns, such as neu­ronal net­work oscil­la­tions in the thal­a­m­o­cor­ti­cal sys­tem, plays a key role in the patho­phys­i­ol­o­gy of chron­ic pain. Yet, lit­tle is known about whether and how such net­work patholo­gies can be tar­get­ed with non­in­va­sive brain stim­u­la­tion as a non­phar­ma­co­log­i­cal treat­ment option. We hypoth­e­sized that alpha oscil­la­tions, a promi­nent thal­a­m­o­cor­ti­cal activ­i­ty pat­tern in the human brain, are impaired in chron­ic pain and can be mod­u­lat­ed with tran­scra­nial alter­nat­ing cur­rent stim­u­la­tion (tACS). We per­formed a ran­dom­ized, crossover, dou­ble-blind, sham-con­trolled study in patients with chron­ic low back pain (CLBP) to inves­ti­gate how alpha oscil­la­tions relate to pain symp­toms for tar­get iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and whether tACS can engage this tar­get and there­by induce pain relief. We used high-den­si­ty elec­troen­cephalog­ra­phy to mea­sure alpha oscil­la­tions and found that the oscil­la­tion strength in the somatosen­so­ry region at base­line before stim­u­la­tion was neg­a­tive­ly cor­re­lat­ed with pain symp­toms. Stim­u­la­tion with alpha-tACS com­pared to sham (place­bo) stim­u­la­tion sig­nif­i­cant­ly enhanced alpha oscil­la­tions in the somatosen­so­ry region. The stim­u­la­tion-induced increase of alpha oscil­la­tions in the somatosen­so­ry region was cor­re­lat­ed with pain relief. Giv­en these find­ings of suc­cess­ful tar­get iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and engage­ment, we pro­pose that mod­u­lat­ing alpha oscil­la­tions with tACS may rep­re­sent a tar­get-spe­cif­ic, non­phar­ma­co­log­i­cal treat­ment approach for CLBP.

The Study in Context:

Focused ultra­sound as emerg­ing method of non-inva­sive neu­rotech­nol­o­gy
Good sur­vey of brain stim­u­la­tion meth­ods, val­ue and lim­i­ta­tions

Leave a Reply...

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply

Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness, Technology

Tags: , , , ,

Watch All Recordings Now (40+ Speakers, 12+ Hours)

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

Follow us and Engage via…

twitter_logo_header
RSS Feed

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives