The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) is a critical brain area for pain and autonomic processing, making it a promising noninvasive therapeutic target. We leverage the high spatial resolution and deep focal lengths of low-intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU) to noninvasively modulate the dACC for effects on behavioral and cardiac autonomic responses using transient heat pain stimuli. A N = 16 healthy human volunteers (6 M/10 F) received transient contact heat pain during either LIFU to the dACC or Sham stimulation. Continuous electroencephalogram (EEG), electrocardiogram (ECG), and electrodermal response (EDR) were recorded. Outcome measures included pain ratings, heart rate variability, EDR response, blood pressure, and the amplitude of the contact heat-evoked potential (CHEP).
LIFU reduced pain ratings by 1.09 ± 0.20 points relative to Sham. LIFU increased heart rate variability indexed by the standard deviation of normal sinus beats (SDNN), low-frequency (LF) power, and the low-frequency/high-frequency (LF/HF) ratio. There were no effects on the blood pressure or EDR. LIFU resulted in a 38.1% reduction in the P2 CHEP amplitude. Results demonstrate LIFU to the dACC reduces pain and alters autonomic responses to acute heat pain stimuli. This has implications for the causal understanding of human pain and autonomic processing in the dACC and potential future therapeutic options for pain relief and modulation of homeostatic signals.

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This post is Copyright: Strohman, A., Payne, B., In, A., Stebbins, K., Legon, W. | February 22, 2024
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