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The influence of the descending pain modulatory system on infant pain-related brain activity

Goksan, Sezgi; Baxter, Luke; Moultrie, Fiona; Duff, Eugene; Hathway, Gareth; Hartley, Caroline; Tracey, Irene; Slater, Rebeccah


Sezgi Goksan

Luke Baxter

Fiona Moultrie

Eugene Duff

Caroline Hartley

Irene Tracey

Rebeccah Slater


The descending pain modulatory system (DPMS) constitutes a network of widely distributed brain regions whose integrated function is essential for effective modulation of sensory input to the central nervous system and behavioural responses to pain. Animal studies demonstrate that young rodents have an immature DPMS, but comparable studies have not been conducted in human infants. In Goksan et al. 2015 we used functional MRI (fMRI) to show that pain-related brain activity in newborn infants is similar to that observed in adults. Here we investigated whether the functional network connectivity strength across the infant DPMS influences the magnitude of this brain activity. FMRI scans were collected while mild mechanical noxious stimulation was applied to the infant’s foot. Greater pre-stimulus functional network connectivity across the DPMS was significantly associated with lower noxious-evoked brain activity (p=0.0004, r=-0.865, n=13), suggesting that in newborn infants the DPMS may regulate the magnitude of noxious-evoked brain activity.


Goksan, S., Baxter, L., Moultrie, F., Duff, E., Hathway, G., Hartley, C., …Slater, R. (2018). The influence of the descending pain modulatory system on infant pain-related brain activity. eLife, 7, Article e37125.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 15, 2018
Online Publication Date Sep 11, 2018
Publication Date Sep 11, 2018
Deposit Date Sep 11, 2018
Publicly Available Date Sep 11, 2018
Journal eLife
Electronic ISSN 2050-084X
Publisher eLife Sciences Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Article Number e37125
Keywords General biochemistry; Genetics and molecular biology; General immunology and microbiology; General neuroscience; General medicine
Public URL
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