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How the Fibromyalgia Brain Responds When Observing Others in Pain

  [ 2 votes ]   [ 2 Comments ] • February 23, 2013


Do patients with fibromyalgia show abnormal neural responses to the observation of pain in others?
– Source: Neuroscience Research, February 15, 2013

By S.J. Lee, et al.


Chronic widespread pain is a hallmark of fibromyalgia (FM). Previous neuroimaging studies have reported that the pain neuro-matrix in patients with FM showed augmented activation in response to actual pain. However, the effect of observing pain in others among patients with FM remains poorly understood.

Both healthy female control subjects (n=24) and female patients with FM (n=23) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while observing a series of color pictures depicting others' hands and feet being injured, and a matched set of control pictures that did not show any painful events.

  • Compared with healthy subjects, patients with FM showed a smaller neural response to pain-related versus neutral stimuli in several neural regions, including the thalamus, anterior cingulate cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, pre- and post-central gyrus, and supplementary motor area.

  • In contrast to augmented pain processing in response to actual experimental pain, patients with FM did not show an enhanced pain response but generally showed lesser activation in cortical regions known to play a role in processing of pain.

These hemodynamic alterations observed in patients with FM suggest that patients with chronic pain may empathize less with others in pain, possibly in order to lessen arousal and aversive self-oriented emotions.

Neuroscience Research, February 15, 2013. By S.J. Lee, H.J. Song, J. Decety, J. Seo, S.H. Kim, S.H. Kim, E.J. Nam, S.K. Kim, S.W. Han, H.J. Lee, Y. Do, Y. Chang. Department of Psychiatry, Kyungpook National University School of Medicine, Daegu, Korea.

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Article Comments Post a Comment

Posted by: roge
Feb 23, 2013
and this study helps those with Fibro with better treatment how? ya that is what i thought
Reply Reply

i have to agree
Posted by: luigi21
Feb 25, 2013
Lol, when reading this i thought exactly the same, and how does this help people with fibromyalgia get better. I can tell you why our brain has probably conditioned itself to do this, because we are so fed up with people moaning about their acute aches and pains infront of someone who's lived with pain everyday for years for which their is little empathy or understanding.

How much money was wasted on this " helpful" research?


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