, Volume 117, Issue 2, pp 192-199

Somatotopic organization along the central sulcus, for pain localization in humans, as revealed by positron emission tomography

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Regional cerebral blood flow was measured with positron emission tomography (PET) in six healthy volunteers at rest and during experimentally induced, sustained cutaneous pain on the dorsum of the right hand or on the dorsum of the right foot. Pain was inflicted by intracutaneous injection of capsaicin, providing a mainly C-fibre nociceptive stimulus. Statistical analysis showed significant activations along the central sulcus (SI) area when comparing pain in the hand to pain in the foot. Separate comparison of both pain states to a baseline revealed different locations along the central sulcus for hand pain and foot pain. The encountered differences are consistent with what is previously known about the somatotopics of non-painful stimuli. When comparing painful stimuli to baseline, the contralateral anterior cingulate gyrus, the ipsilateral anterior insular cortex and the ipsilateral prefrontal cortex were implicated. The results are consistent with an involvement of SI in the spatial discrimination of acute cutaneous pain.

Received: 17 October 1996 / Accepted: 12 May 1997