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Brain Activation During Accommodation to Painful Stimulation With FMRI

This study has been completed.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Jim Ibinson, University of Pittsburgh Identifier:
First received: November 15, 2010
Last updated: June 22, 2017
Last verified: June 2017
Blood oxygen level dependant (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) investigations of pain have provided substantial insight into the workings of the human brain. To date, however, the vast majority of studies have dealt with short painful stimulations. This work will expand the investigators knowledge of how longer stimulations are processed by comparing the activation pattern from a two minute painful stimulation with that of an 30-second painful stimulus. The investigators hypothesis that accommodation to the longer stimulation will be evident by either decreases in signal intensity in brain areas known to process pain, or by increasing activity in brain areas thought to be responsible for the modulation of painful perception.


Study Type: Observational
Study Design: Observational Model: Case-Only
Time Perspective: Cross-Sectional
Official Title: Brain Activation During Accommodation to Painful Stimulation With Functional Imaging of Pain

Further study details as provided by Jim Ibinson, University of Pittsburgh:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • To determine the areas of brain activity from a 2 minute long painful stimulation [ Time Frame: After a 2 minute long painful stimulation ]

Enrollment: 15
Study Start Date: November 2010
Study Completion Date: October 2016
Primary Completion Date: June 2011 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Detailed Description:

Background: Over the past 14 years, BOLD FMRI studies have non-invasively shown that pain activates a matrix of areas, but that this activation decays during stimulation, possibly reflecting the body's ability to "accommodate" to the stimulation. The majority of these use short applications of pain lasting 1 to 30 seconds. However, investigators are now using stimulations much longer than the periods that were typical a few years ago. The effect of signal decay on the activation maps generated by these longer tasks is not known. Because the signal change in many of the subcortical areas involved in pain processing is low, errors in analysis due to neglecting the signal decay may induce significant artifact.

Materials and Methods: Using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, 20 healthy volunteers will experience two different painful stimulations: a repeating 30-second long stimulation and a constant 2 minute stimulation. The brain activity for each will be determined and compared. In addition, the signal decay during each painful stimulation will be quantified and compared.

Significance: Investigators are using longer stimulations periods in an attempt to understand how the brain processes "real- life" pain instead of the artificial on-off pattern of earlier studies. However, significant attention has not been paid to the possible effect of accommodation on the stimulus and how this may impact the activity pattern found. In addition, proof of activation of pain-control areas like the periaquaductal gray while inverse changes are occurring in pain-perceiving areas has not been sought. This study will address both of these issues with a single BOLD FMRI experiment.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 50 Years   (Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes
Sampling Method:   Probability Sample
Study Population
Subjects will come from the general surrounding community.

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Age 18 to 50
  • Right-handed
  • Male or female
  • Healthy individuals not taking any medication.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Pregnancy
  • Diagnosed with any treated or untreated medical or neurological conditions
  • Using any prescription drugs, including antidepressants, pain medications, sedative medications, blood pressure medications, seizure medications, or antipsychotics. Oral contraceptives are permitted
  • Using any over-the-counter medications including aspirin, Tylenol, or herbal supplements
  • Using any illicit substances
  • Contraindications to magnetic resonance imaging.
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01242540

United States, Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, 15213
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of Pittsburgh
Principal Investigator: James W Ibinson, MD, PhD University of Pittsburgh