Pain is something that we all share. But, have you ever wondered about how you know what that pain is about?
Pain-related fear is typically assessed with various questionnaires, often used interchangeably, that ask patients how they feel about their clinical pain. However, it is unclear to what extent these measure fear and anxiety, which are known to involve different brain regions, and perhaps other psychological constructs.
During a recent study, researchers at the Balgrist University applied a machine learning technique that could potentially translate patterns of activity in fear-processing brain regions into scores on questionnaires used to assess a patient’s fear of pain.
This study was published in the Journal of eNeuro.
Researchers addressed this ambiguity by imaging the brains of patients with low back pain as they watched video clips evoking harmful (bending) and harmless (walking) activities for the back. Participants’ brain activity was predictive of their scores on the various questionnaires.
Importantly, different questionnaires were associated with distinct patterns of neural activity.