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Presenter: Vitaly Napadow, PhD
Functional brain imaging has opened a window into brain function in humans and has significantly enhanced our understanding of neural function and connectivity supporting aversive symptom states. Our research has shown that the brain is composed of multiple primary sensory and associative networks that activate and deactivate over time as distinct assemblies. These networks can become blurred when chronic, recurring activation of network nodes is maintained. For example, recurring, spontaneous pain in a distinct body area brings saliency to specific somatosensory and nociceptive input, blurring the Salience Network (SLN) and somatotopically-distinct subregions of Somatomotor Network (SMN). Additionally, catastrophizing about pain activates the PCC and brings saliency to ruminative thought, blurring SLN and default mode network (DMN). Functional MRI brain connectivity metrics can be used to evaluate objective brain-based markers that track with clinical pain. Applications include objective markers of disease for drug and non-pharmacological / behavioral intervention trials, baseline predictor of response, and targets for neurofeedback.