Brain dynamics for perception of tactile allodynia (touch-induced pain) in postherpetic neuralgia

P. Y. Geha, M. N. Baliki, X. Wang, R. N. Harden, J. A. Paice, A. V. Apkarian*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is a debilitating chronic pain condition often accompanied by a sensation of pain when the affected region is touched (tactile allodynia). Here we identify brain regions involved in stimulus-induced touch-evoked pain (dynamical mechanical allodynia, DMA), compare brain activity between DMA and spontaneous pain (described earlier for the same patients in [Geha PY, Baliki MN, Chialvo DR, Harden RN, Paice JA, Apkarian AV. Brain activity for spontaneous pain of postherpetic neuralgia and its modulation by lidocaine patch therapy. Pain 2007;128:88-100]), delineate regions that specifically code the magnitude of perceived allodynia, and show the transformation of allodynia-related information in the brain as a time-evolving network. Eleven PHN patients were studied for DMA and its modulation with Lidoderm therapy (patches of 5% lidocaine applied to the PHN affected body part). Continuous ratings of pain while the affected body part was brushed during fMRI were contrasted with non-painful touch when brushing was applied to an equivalent opposite body site, and with fluctuations of a bar observed during scanning, at three sessions relative to Lidoderm treatment. Lidoderm treatment did not decrease DMA ratings but did decrease spontaneous pain. Multiple brain areas showed preferential activity for allodynia. However, mainly responses in the bilateral putamen and left medial temporal gyrus were related to the magnitude of allodynia. Both DMA and spontaneous pain perceptions were best represented within the same sub-cortical structures but with minimal overlap, implying that PHN pain modulates behavioral learning and hedonics. These results have important clinical implications regarding adequate therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-656
Number of pages16
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 15 2008


  • Amygdala
  • Chronic pain
  • Cortex
  • Putamen
  • Touch
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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