Decoding spatial location of perceived pain to acupuncture needle using multivoxel pattern analysis

Won Mo Jung, In Seon Lee, Ye Seul Lee, Junsuk Kim, Hi Joon Park, Christian Wallraven, Younbyoung Chae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The present study applied multivoxel pattern analysis to decode spatial discrimination in pain perception to acupuncture needle from brain functional magnetic resonance image. Fourteen participants were stimulated by acupuncture needles at two adjacent body parts on their left forearm (PC6 vs. HT7). We trained support vector machines on the spatial information from the whole-brain functional magnetic resonance imaging data and projected the support vector machine weight to the brain image space to represent the effect of each voxel on the classifier output. Using region-of-interest masks in individual brains, we trained and tested a linear support vector machine classifier on the accuracy of spatial discrimination in trial-wise functional magnetic resonance imaging data. A classical univariate general linear model analysis testing for differences between the two different locations did not reveal any significant differences. Multivoxel pattern analysis revealed that the brain regions for the prediction of sensory discrimination in pain perceptions to two different points were in the primary somatosensory cortex, primary motor cortex, and supramarginal gyrus, anterior and posterior insula, anterior and posterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and inferior parietal lobule. Our findings suggest that spatial localizations of pain perceptions to acupuncture needle can be predicted by the neural response patterns in the somatosensory areas and the frontoparietal areas.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular pain
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (No. 2015R1D1A1A01058033, No. 2018R1D1A1B07042313, and 2019H1D3A1A01070710).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • Acupuncture
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • multivoxel pattern analysis
  • pain perception
  • somatosensation
  • spatial discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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