Published online Mar 21, 2006. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v12.i11.1723
Revised: October 21, 2005
Accepted: November 18, 2005
Published online: March 21, 2006
AIM: To determine by brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) whether cerebral processing of non-visceral stimuli is altered in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients compared with healthy subjects. To circumvent spinal viscerosomatic convergence mechanisms, we used auditory stimulation, and to identify a possible influence of psychological factors the stimuli differed in their emotional quality.
METHODS: In 8 IBS patients and 8 controls, fMRI measurements were performed using a block design of 4 auditory stimuli of different emotional quality (pleasant sounds of chimes, unpleasant peep (2000 Hz), neutral words, and emotional words). A gradient echo T2*-weighted sequence was used for the functional scans. Statistical maps were constructed using the general
RESULTS: To emotional auditory stimuli, IBS patients relative to controls responded with stronger deactivations in a greater variety of emotional processing regions, while the response patterns, unlike in controls, did not differentiate between distressing or pleasant sounds. To neutral auditory stimuli, by contrast, only IBS patients responded with large significant activations.
CONCLUSION: Altered cerebral response patterns to auditory stimuli in emotional stimulus-processing regions suggest that altered sensory processing in IBS may not be specific for visceral sensation, but might reflect
generalized changes in emotional sensitivity and affective reactivity, possibly associated with the psychological comorbidity often found in IBS patients.