Prestimulus functional connectivity determines pain perception in humans

Markus Ploner, Michael C Lee, Katja Wiech, Ulrike Bingel, Irene Tracey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

236 Citations (SciVal)


Pain is a highly subjective experience that can be substantially influenced by differences in individual susceptibility as well as personality. How susceptibility to pain and personality translate to brain activity is largely unknown. Here, we report that the functional connectivity of two key brain areas before a sensory event reflects the susceptibility to a subsequent noxious stimulus being perceived as painful. Specifically, the prestimulus connectivity among brain areas related to the subjective perception of the body and to the modulation of pain (anterior insular cortex and brainstem, respectively) determines whether a noxious event is perceived as painful. Further, these effects of prestimulus connectivity on pain perception covary with pain-relevant personality traits. More anxious and pain-attentive individuals display weaker descending connectivity to pain modulatory brain areas. We conclude that variations in functional connectivity underlie personality-related differences in individual susceptibility to pain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-60
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2010


  • Adult
  • Brain
  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Lasers
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nerve Net
  • Pain
  • Pain Measurement
  • Perception
  • Personality
  • Young Adult


Dive into the research topics of 'Prestimulus functional connectivity determines pain perception in humans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this