Neurogastroenterology and Motility vol:20 issue:5 pages:479-487
Painful gastric distension is processed in a network consisting of brainstem, thalamus, insula, anterior cingulate cortex, (lateral) orbitofrontal and prefrontal cortex, superior temporal cortex and cerebellum. However, the role of primary and secondary somatosensory cortical regions (SI/SII) in the processing of visceral sensation or pain in general and gastric sensation in particular remains unclear. The aim of this study was to localize activations in the SI/SII area from our previously published functional brain imaging studies on gastric distension more precisely, using newly available cytoarchitectonic probability maps of SI/SII, implemented in the SPM Anatomy toolbox. In healthy volunteers, we found two clusters to be overlapping with SII (mainly the OP4 subregion) and, to a lesser extent, SI, although this overlap was small in size. In functional dyspepsia patients, we found two clusters to be overlapping with SII (mainly OP4), of which the cluster in the right hemisphere also overlapped with SI. These findings were confirmed in a conjunction analysis of both groups. Activation in right SI/SII was significantly higher in healthy volunteers when formally compared to patients. These results provide more detailed information on the brain processing of gastric sensation, supporting the hypothesis that SI/SII are involved. This is in line with some previously published studies on visceral sensation, but at variance with some other studies. Methodological differences between the brain imaging studies on gastric distension may account for these somewhat discrepant findings.