Late responses in the anterior insula reflect the cognitive component of pain: Evidence of nonpain processing

Nami Taniguchi, Naruhito Hironaga, Takako Mitsudo, Shunsuke Tamura, Ken Yamaura, Shozo Tobimatsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Introduction:Pain is a complex experience influenced by sensory and psychological factors. The insula is considered to be a core part of the pain network in the brain. Previous studies have suggested a relationship between the posterior insula (PI) and sensory processing, and between the anterior insula (AI) and cognitive-affective factors.Objectives:Our aim was to distinguish sensory and cognitive responses in pain-related insular activities.Methods:We recorded spatiotemporal insular activation patterns of healthy participants (n = 20) during pain or tactile processing with painful or nonpainful movie stimuli, using a magnetoencephalography. We compared the peak latency between PI and AI activities in each stimulus condition, and between pain and tactile processing in each response. The peak latency and amplitude between different movies were then examined to explore the effects of cognitive influence. A visual analogue scale was used to assess subjective perception.Results:The results revealed one clear PI activity and 2 AI activities (early and late) in insular responses induced by pain/tactile stimulation. The early response transmitted from the PI to AI was observed during sensory-associated brain activity, whereas the late AI response was observed during cognitive-associated activity. In addition, we found that painful movie stimuli had a significant influence on both late AI activity and subjective perception, caused by nonpainful actual stimulation.Conclusions:The current findings suggested that late AI activation reflects the processing of cognitive pain information, whereas the PI and early AI responses reflect sensory processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)984
Number of pages1
JournalPain Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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