Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Low-frequency BOLD fluctuations demonstrate altered thalamocortical connectivity in diabetic neuropathic pain

Franco Cauda12*, Katiuscia Sacco12, Federico D'Agata123, Sergio Duca1, Dario Cocito3, Giuliano Geminiani12, Filippo Migliorati2 and Gianluca Isoardo4

Author Affiliations

1 CCS fMRI, Koelliker Hospital, Corso Galileo Ferraris, 251-255,10134, Turin, Italy

2 Department of Psychology, University of Turin, Via Po, 14, 10123, Turin, Italy

3 Department of Neuroscience, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria San Giovanni Battista, Via Cherasco,15, 10126, Turin, Italy

4 Neurophysiology unit, Department of Neurosurgery, Azienda Sanitaria CTO, Via Zuretti, 29, 10126, Turin, Italy

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BMC Neuroscience 2009, 10:138  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-10-138

Published: 26 November 2009



In this paper we explored thalamocortical functional connectivity in a group of eight patients suffering from peripheral neuropathic pain (diabetic pain), and compared it with that of a group of healthy subjects. We hypothesized that functional interconnections between the thalamus and cortex can be altered after years of ongoing chronic neuropathic pain.


Functional connectivity was studied through a resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) paradigm: temporal correlations between predefined regions of interest (primary somatosensory cortex, ventral posterior lateral thalamic nucleus, medial dorsal thalamic nucleus) and the rest of the brain were systematically investigated. The patient group showed decreased resting state functional connectivity between the thalamus and the cortex.


This supports the idea that chronic pain can alter thalamocortical connections causing a disruption of thalamic feedback, and the view of chronic pain as a thalamocortical dysrhythmia.