Central Imaging of Pain and the Process of Chronicity

Sandra Kamping and Herta Flor


Neuroimaging methods were introduced to clinical and experimental pain research only a few decades ago but have had a major impact. In this chapter we will focus on neuroimaging in humans and give a short overview of brain areas involved in the perception and evaluation of pain. We will then discuss functional and structural changes found in patients with chronic back pain (CBP) and will specifically emphasize the role of emotional learning and memory as well as cognitive factors in the chronicity process. This chapter will consider methods ranging from electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) to functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), including magnetic resonance spectroscopy and positron emission tomography (PET). We do not aim to provide an exhaustive review but will highlight key findings and discuss the impact they had on our understanding of CBP and factors that lead to chronicity.

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