, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 68-73
Date: 01 Jul 2005

Laser acupuncture induced specific cerebral cortical and subcortical activations in humans

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Abstract

As recent studies demonstrated, acupuncture can elicit activity in specific brain areas. This study aims to explore further the central effect using laser acupuncture. We investigated the cerebral effects of laser acupuncture at both acupoints GB43 with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). As a control condition the laser was mounted at the same acupoints but without application of laser stimulation. The group results showed significant brain activations within the thalamus, nucleus subthalamicus, nucleus ruber, the brainstem, and the Brodmann areas 40 and 22 for the acupuncture condition. No significant brain activations were observed within the placebo condition. The activations we observed were laser acupuncture-specific and predominantly ipsilateral. This supports the assumption that acupuncture is mediated by meridians, since meridians do not cross to the other side. Furthermore, we could show that laser acupuncture allows one to design a pure placebo condition.