Wednesday, September 21st
10:45am-12:15pm EDT


Topical Workshop


Imaging: Pain Imaging and Neuroimaging


715 A

Alpha Oscillations as a Potential Biomarker of Acute and Chronic Pain

The temporal code of neuronal activity underlying acute and chronic pain is not fully understood but is thought to involve neural oscillations at characteristic frequencies. In particular, alpha frequency oscillations have been recently linked to acute pain sensitivity and aspects of chronic pain and thus represent a potential pain biomarker. This workshop will provide an overview of approaches to measure (EEG, MEG) and modulate alpha oscillations. Dr Garcia-Larrea will provide an overview of the brain functions associated with human alpha rhythms, and how the modulation of these activities can help in the research, diagnosis and therapy of pain conditions. Dr. Seminowicz will present his findings that link peak alpha frequency activity with acute pain sensitivity. Dr. Davis will present her findings of abnormalities in regional peak alpha frequency and cross-regional coupling associated with neuropathic and non-neuropathic chronic pains. The panel will then lead a discussion on the specificity of alpha oscillations to specific types of pain and sex differences, and whether this represents a potentially clinically useful biomarker.


10:45am EDT12:15pm EDT

Peak Alpha Frequency as a Potential Biomarker of Chronic Neuropathic Pain with Some Sex Specificity

Tracks: Imaging: Pain Imaging And Neuroimaging
Categories: Topical Workshop
Presented By: Dr. Karen D. Davis

The Davis lab has identified abnormalities in alpha oscillations within the dynamic pain connectome across multiple chronic pain conditions, including multiple sclerosis, ankylosing spondylitis, and neuropathic pains. The speaker will describe the findings that point to deficits in  alpha activity that include the speed (i.e., alpha slowing) and power of the peak alpha frequency (PAF) as well as abnormal synchrony (i.e., functional coupling or functional connectivity) at alpha frequencies that normally occur between regions of the dynamic pain connectome. The speaker will also highlight the data that support the proposition that PAF is a biomarker of chronic neuropathic pain as well as data that point to sex-specificity of certain findings.

10:45am EDT12:15pm EDT

Peak Alpha Frequency is a Simple and Reliable Metric of Pain Sensitivity

Tracks: Imaging: Pain Imaging And Neuroimaging
Categories: Topical Workshop

We have shown that peak alpha frequency (PAF) is a simple and reliable metric of pain sensitivity across multiple pain models and time-scales. The speaker will describe ongoing studies of the mechanisms of PAF, including further analysis of the alpha spectrum data, and the use of simultaneous EEG-fMRI. The talk will conclude with new data from a large-scale validation study as well as several findings demonstrating the clinical utility of PAF.

10:45am EDT12:15pm EDT

The Alpha Activity in the Human Brain: A Conundrum with High Potentialities for Pain Research

Tracks: Imaging: Pain Imaging And Neuroimaging
Categories: Topical Workshop

Presentation Description
Human alpha rhythm was described almost one Century ago (1929) and despite such a long history its precise composition, sources and function remain incompletely understood. The EEG alpha consists of multiple phenomena, including globally coherent rhythms and more localized activity, and its sources combine long-range connective waves and thalamo-cortical networks. Participation of a brain region in internal (“self-referential”) mental processes, as opposed to the processing of external stimuli, is considered one primary function of alpha oscillations, and explains the paradox that alpha activity is suppressed when a brain region processes sensory stimuli, but increases during a number of cognitive tasks, notably working memory and problem solving. In this presentation we will discuss the alpha conundrum and how the recording and manipulation of this activity may be of use in studies of normal and pathological pain, both for diagnosis and for treatment.

Key Insight
Understanding the significance of alpha suppression / enhancement allows using this activity as a potential marker of pain-related brain functions, including pain encoding in memory buffers, and can also help determining the optimal stimulation frequency of cortical neurostimulation for pain relief.


Dr. Karen D. Davis

Professor and Senior Scietist
University of Toronto and Krembil Brain Institute

Professor Luis Garcia-Larrea

Director of Research
Inserm, Head of Central Integration of Pain lab at the Lyon Centre for Neuroscience

Prof. David A. Seminowicz

Western University