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Altered resting state attentional networks in diabetic neuropathic pain
  1. Franco Cauda1,*,
  2. Federico D'Agata1,
  3. Katiuscia Sacco1,
  4. Sergio Duca2,
  5. Dario Cocito3,
  6. Ilaria Paolasso3,
  7. Gianluca Isoardo4,
  8. Giuliano Geminiani1
  1. 1 Department of Psychology, University of Turin, Italy;
  2. 2 Department of Neuroradiology, Koelliker Hospital, Turin, Italy;
  3. 3 Department of Neuroscience, AOU San Giovanni Battista, Turin, Italy;
  4. 4 Department of Neurophysiology, AO CTO, Turin, Italy
  1. Correspondence to: Franco Cauda, Psychology, University of Turin, V. Po 14, Torino, 10100, Italy; franco.cauda{at}unito.it

Abstract

Chronic pain can be considered as a highly salient stimulus that continuously taxes the attentional and salience processing networks, thus interfering with cognitive abilities and, more specifically, consuming attentional resources. The aim of the paper was to explore whether and how diabetic neuropathic pain (NP) affects attentional networks. We sought to achieve this by investigating resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) in diabetic NP patients and comparing it with that of matched healthy controls. NP patients showed a widespread reduction of connectivity in both the dorsal and ventral attentional networks, as well as in the dorsal anterior cingulated cortex (ACC), typically implicated in salience processing. We also found a generalized reduction of the length of functional connections in the NP group: in all the examined networks, the Euclidian distance between connected voxels was significantly shorter in patients vs. controls. In sum, our work showed that in diabetic NP pain a parieto-fronto-cingulate network controlling attention to external stimuli is impaired. In line with previous studies, we conclude that chronic pain can disrupt the synchrony of a common pool of brain areas, involved in self monitoring, pain processing and salience detection.

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