The neural mechanisms subserving recognition of noxious stimuli and empathy for pain appear to involve at least in part the cortical regions associated with the processing of pain affect. An important issue concerns the specificity of brain networks associated with observing and representing painful conditions, in comparison with other unpleasant stimuli. Recently, we found both similarities and differences between the brain patterns of activity related to the observation of noxious or disgusting stimuli delivered to one hand or foot. Overlap regions included the perigenual anterior cingulate (pACC), whose activity was related to the perceived unpleasantness. We aimed here at revealing how pACC functional connectivity changes in relationship to the different experimental conditions, using a psychophysiological interaction model. Activity in pACC during the observation of painful stimuli was specifically and positively related to regions in the right hemisphere, including portions of the prefrontal, midcingulate and insular cortex. On the other hand, positive changes in pACC connectivity during the vision of disgusting stimuli were present in the right basal ganglia. These data suggest that pACC activity is part of different networks involved in the recognition of painful or disgusting stimuli.
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging
- Psychophysiological interaction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Biomedical Engineering