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Robert C. Coghill, PhD

Animations of Brain Structure and Function

Pain-induced brain activation in highly sensitive individuals

Pain-induced brain activation in highly sensitive individuals as assessed with functional MRI (fMRI). Note that the primary somatosensory cortex and anterior cingulate cortex had a greater magnitude of activation in this group of 6 sensitive individuals than in 6 insensitive individuals (shown below).


Pain-induced brain activation in insensitive individuals as assessed with functional MRI (fMRI). Note that the thalamus displayed generally similar activation in both highly sensitive (above) and insensitive individuals.

Volume-rendered brain

A volume-rendered brain combined with a surface rendered head, both derived from MRI data. 

MRI of a human head

Another movie derived from a highly processed magnetic resonance image (MRI) of a human head.
Somatosensory processingTwo brain areas important in somatosensory processing are shown in this movie. Both the thalamus (lower activation focus) and the primary somatosensory cortex (upper activation focus) are activated by acute pain produced by injection of capsaicin (chile pepper extract) into the skin. Regional activations are determined by statistical analysis of positron emission tomography (PET) scans from 14 subjects. These activations are then displayed on the average of all subjects' MRI scans.

Thalamic and primary somatosensory activations

The thalamic and primary somatosensory activations in the movie above can be better viewed in this interactive three dimensional object.

PET and MRI images of the brain during neuropathic painThis movie fades between a functional positron emission tomography (PET) image and a structural MRI image of the exact same brain region of the same subject. These images are from a subject with neuropathic pain. Note the relatively low blood flow in the left portion of the thalamus, the region which receives input from the painful zone.The decreased blood flow is a consistent finding from several different types of chronic pain.  

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Neurobiology & Anatomy

Phone 336-716-4368

Dr. Barry E. Stein

Dr. Barry E. Stein, Chairman
Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy
Wake Forest School of Medicine
Medical Center Boulevard
Winston-Salem, NC  27157-1010
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Last Updated: 10-10-2016
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