Stanford Advisors

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  • Naturalistic acute pain states decoded from neural and facial dynamics. bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology Huang, Y., Gopal, J., Kakusa, B., Li, A. H., Huang, W., Wang, J. B., Persad, A., Ramayya, A., Parvizi, J., Buch, V. P., Keller, C. 2024


    Pain is a complex experience that remains largely unexplored in naturalistic contexts, hindering our understanding of its neurobehavioral representation in ecologically valid settings. To address this, we employed a multimodal, data-driven approach integrating intracranial electroencephalography, pain self-reports, and facial expression quantification to characterize the neural and behavioral correlates of naturalistic acute pain in twelve epilepsy patients undergoing continuous monitoring with neural and audiovisual recordings. High self-reported pain states were associated with elevated blood pressure, increased pain medication use, and distinct facial muscle activations. Using machine learning, we successfully decoded individual participants' high versus low self-reported pain states from distributed neural activity patterns (mean AUC = 0.70), involving mesolimbic regions, striatum, and temporoparietal cortex. High self-reported pain states exhibited increased low-frequency activity in temporoparietal areas and decreased high-frequency activity in mesolimbic regions (hippocampus, cingulate, and orbitofrontal cortex) compared to low pain states. This neural pain representation remained stable for hours and was modulated by pain onset and relief. Objective facial expression changes also classified self-reported pain states, with results concordant with electrophysiological predictions. Importantly, we identified transient periods of momentary pain as a distinct naturalistic acute pain measure, which could be reliably differentiated from affect-neutral periods using intracranial and facial features, albeit with neural and facial patterns distinct from self-reported pain. These findings reveal reliable neurobehavioral markers of naturalistic acute pain across contexts and timescales, underscoring the potential for developing personalized pain interventions in real-world settings.

    View details for DOI 10.1101/2024.05.10.593652

    View details for PubMedID 38766098

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC11100805