Little is known about the cerebellar involvement in pain processing in spite of the fact that the cerebellum probably plays a crucial role in pain-related behavior. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging we examined the differential cerebellar activation in 18 healthy subjects in relation to their perceived pain-intensity of noxious and non-noxious thermal stimuli. In contrast to non-noxious (40°C) stimuli, noxious (48.5°C) stimuli revealed activation in the deep cerebellar nuclei, anterior vermis and bilaterally in the cerebellar hemispheric lobule VI. With the same noxious stimulus (48.5°C) there was differential cerebellar activation depending on the perceived pain intensity: high pain intensity ratings were associated with activation in ipsilateral hemispheric lobule III-VI, deep cerebellar nuclei and in the anterior vermis (lobule III). This differential cerebellar activation pattern probably reflects not only somatosensory processing but also perceived pain intensity that may be important for cerebellar modulation of nociceptive circuits.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)