Neural responses to a modified Stroop paradigm in patients with complex chronic musculoskeletal pain compared to matched controls: an experimental functional magnetic resonance imaging study
BMC (Springer Nature)
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Background Chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMSKP) is attentionally demanding, complex and multi-factorial; neuroimaging research in the population seen in pain clinics is sparse. A better understanding of the neural activity underlying attentional processes to pain related information compared to healthy controls may help inform diagnosis and management in the future. Methods Blood oxygenation level dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging (BOLD fMRI) compared brain responses in patients with CMSKP (n = 15) and healthy controls (n = 14) while completing a modified Stroop task using pain-related, positive-emotional, and neutral control words. Results Response times in the Stroop task were no different for CMSKP patients compared with controls, but patients were less accurate in their responses to all word types. BOLD fMRI responses during presentation of pain-related words suggested increases in neural activation in patients compared to controls in regions previously reported as being involved in pain perception and emotion: the anterior cingulate cortex, insula and primary and secondary somatosensory cortex. No fMRI differences were seen between groups in response to positive or control words. Conclusions Using this modified Stroop tasks, specific differences were identified in brain activity between CMSKP patients and controls in response to pain-related information using fMRI. This provided evidence of differences in the way that pain-related information is processed in those with chronic complex musculoskeletal pain that were not detectable using the behavioural measures of speed and accuracy. The study may be helpful in gaining new insights into the impact of attention in those living with chronic pain.
Taylor, A.M., Harris, A.D., Varnava, A., Phillips, R., Hughes, O., Wilkes, A.R., Hall, J.E. and Wise, R.G. (2016) 'Neural responses to a modified Stroop paradigm in patients with complex chronic musculoskeletal pain compared to matched controls: an experimental functional magnetic resonance imaging study', BMC Psychology, 4(1), p.5.
Article published in BMC Psychology available open access at https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-016-0109-4
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