, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 255-264

Pain Processing Traced by Magnetoencephalography in the Human Brain

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The temporal and spatial processing of pain perception in human was traced by magnetoencephalography (MEG). We applied a painful CO2 laser beam to the forearm of 11 normal subjects, and estimated the activated areas using a single equivalent current dipole (ECD) at each time point, and a brain electric source analysis (BESA) as a spatio-temporal multiple source analysis method. The four-source model was found to be the most appropriate; sources 1 and 2 at the secondary sensory cortex (SII) contralateral and ipsilateral to the stimulation, and sources 3 and 4 at the anterior medial temporal area (probably the amygdalar nuclei or hippocampal formation) contralateral and ipsilateral to the stimulation, respectively. Activities in all 4 areas were temporally overlapped. Activity in the primary sensory cortex (SI) contralateral to the stimulated site was not identified. Activity in the cingulate cortex was also not clearly identified. These results are probably due to one or more of the following factors; (1) the cingulate cortex is too deep, (2) the ECDs generated in the cingulate cortex are mainly oriented radially, and (3) the ECDs generated in bilateral hemispheres interfere with each other. No significant or consistent magnetic fields were recorded after 500 msec following the stimulation, probably due to the complicated spatial and temporal overlapping of activities in multiple areas.