Our previous study has shown that directed attention to a painful stimulus is associated with increased synchrony between electrocorticographic (ECoG) oscillations in pain-related cortical structures. We now test the hypothesis that the synchrony or functional connectivity of this pain network differs between events during which pain is or is not perceived (pain or non-pain events) in response to a noxious cutaneous laser stimulus. ECoG recordings were made through subdural electrodes implanted in a patient for the treatment of epilepsy. The patient was instructed that the stimulus could be painful or non-painful on any given presentation. Synchrony between ECoG signals at different sites was measured during the pre-stimulus interval, and the difference in the number of sites with significant pre-stimulus synchrony was compared between pain and non-pain events. Pre-stimulus synchrony was more common during pain versus non-pain events among electrodes overall, and in the subset of electrodes at which laser-evoked potentials (LEPs) were recorded. This difference between pain and non-pain events was also significant for the subset of electrodes over medial cortex, including anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), but not for subsets of electrodes over the superior and inferior convexity, including primary somatosensory (S1) and parasylvian cortex (PS), respectively. These results suggest that dynamic changes in the functional connectivity between ACC and other cortical regions enable the perception of pain in response to noxious stimuli.
- Pain perception