Dynamic Functional Brain Connectivity Underlying Temporal Summation of Pain in Fibromyalgia

Joshua C. Cheng, Alessandra Anzolin, Michael Berry, Hamed Honari, Myrella Paschali, Asimina Lazaridou, Jeungchan Lee, Dan Mikael Ellingsen, Marco L. Loggia, Arvina Grahl, Martin A. Lindquist, Robert R. Edwards, Vitaly Napadow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Abnormal central pain processing is a leading cause of pain in fibromyalgia (FM) and is perceptually characterized with the psychophysical measure of temporal summation of pain (TSP). TSP is the perception of increasingly greater pain in response to repetitive or tonic noxious stimuli. Previous neuroimaging studies have used static (i.e., summary) measures to examine the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) correlates of TSP in FM. However, functional brain activity rapidly and dynamically reorganizes over time, and, similarly, TSP is a temporally evolving process. This study was undertaken to demonstrate how a complete understanding of the neural circuitry supporting TSP in FM thus requires a dynamic measure that evolves over time. Methods: We utilized novel methods for analyzing dynamic functional brain connectivity in patients with FM in order to examine how TSP-associated fluctuations are linked to the dynamic functional reconfiguration of the brain. In 84 FM patients and age- and sex-matched healthy controls, we collected high-temporal-resolution fMRI data during a resting state and during a state in which sustained cuff pressure pain was applied to the leg. Results: FM patients experienced greater TSP than healthy controls (mean ± SD TSP score 17.93 ± 19.24 in FM patients versus 9.47 ± 14.06 in healthy controls; P = 0.028), but TSP scores varied substantially between patients. In the brain, the presence versus absence of TSP in patients with FM was marked by more sustained enmeshment between sensorimotor and salience networks during the pain period. Furthermore, dynamic enmeshment was noted solely in FM patients with high TSP, as interactions with all other brain networks were dampened during the pain period. Conclusion: This study elucidates the dynamic brain processes underlying facilitated central pain processing in FM. Our findings will enable future investigation of dynamic symptoms in FM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)700-710
Number of pages11
JournalArthritis and Rheumatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology


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