Dissociation between individual differences in self-reported pain intensity and underlying fMRI brain activation

M. E. Hoeppli, H. Nahman-Averbuch, W. A. Hinkle, E. Leon, J. Peugh, M. Lopez-Sola, C. D. King, K. R. Goldschneider, R. C. Coghill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Pain is an individual experience. Previous studies have highlighted changes in brain activation and morphology associated with within- and interindividual pain perception. In this study we sought to characterize brain mechanisms associated with between-individual differences in pain in a sample of healthy adolescent and adult participants (N = 101). Here we show that pain ratings varied widely across individuals and that individuals reported changes in pain evoked by small differences in stimulus intensity in a manner congruent with their pain sensitivity, further supporting the utility of subjective reporting as a measure of the true individual experience. Furthermore, brain activation related to interindividual differences in pain was not detected, despite clear sensitivity of the Blood Oxygenation Level-Dependent (BOLD) signal to small differences in noxious stimulus intensities within individuals. These findings suggest fMRI may not be a useful objective measure to infer reported pain intensity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3569
JournalNature communications
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

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