The brain representation of visceral stimulation bears important similarities to that of somatic stimulation. However, the role of the primary (S1) and secondary (S2) somatosensory cortices in mediating gastric sensation is uncertain.Eighteen healthy, right-handed volunteers (age 32 years+/-6.5 years; 14 men) underwent dynamic assessment of the relationship between sensation and fundic barostat distending pressure and volume, and then brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during noxious fundic distension. Cytoarchitectonic probability maps were used to examine in detail the null hypothesis that fundic distension did not produce significant activation of S1 or S2.Distending volume explained 74% of the variance in gastric sensation, compared to 64% with distending pressure. Incorporating distending volume into the regressor function for our fMRI analyses, we found that noxious fundic distension activated a widespread network of brain regions, including the pontine brainstem, thalami, cerebellum, insular cortex bilaterally, anterior and posterior cingulate cortex, right frontal lobe, and inferior parietal lobules. In detailed analyses, we found no evidence of activation of S1, but did find activation in one region of S2.Our findings suggest that an extensive, predominantly fronto-limbic network of brain regions, including the insular cortex, mediates perception of noxious gastric fundic distension in healthy humans, without significant participation by the primary somatosensory cortex. This and other recent studies lay the groundwork for investigations comparing brain processing of visceral stimuli between healthy volunteers and patients with functional dyspepsia.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2006.07.033
View details for Web of Science ID 000242901100022
View details for PubMedID 17110130