Noxious pressure stimulation demonstrates robust, reliable estimates of brain activity and self-reported pain

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Functional neuroimaging techniques have provided great insight in the field of pain. Utilising these techniques, we have characterised pain-induced responses in the brain andimproved our understanding of key pain-related phenomena. Despite the utility of these methods, there remains a need to assess the test retest reliability of pain modulated blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) MR signal across repeated sessions. This is especially the case for more novel yet increasingly implemented stimulation modalities, such as noxious pressure, and it is acutely important for multi-session studies considering treatment efficacy. In the present investigation, BOLD signal responses were estimated for noxious-pressure stimulation in a group of healthy participants, across two separate sessions. Test retest reliability of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data and self-reported visual analogue scale measures were determined by the intra-class correlation coefficient. High levels of reliability were observed in several key brain regions known to underpin the pain experience, including in the thalamus, insula, somatosensory cortices, and inferior frontal regions, alongside “excellent” reliability of self-reported pain measures. These data demonstrate that BOLD-fMRI derived signals are a valuable tool for quantifying noxious responses pertaining to pressure stimulation. We further recommend the implementation of pressure as a stimulation modality in experimental applications.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Jul 2020


  • Noxious pressure; ICC; Test retest; Evoked-response fMRI; Pain; VAS


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