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26th Napa Pain Conference

NPC26-Sa2 - fMRI-based Biomarkers for Pain: From Models to Interventions

Aug 17, 2019 8:45am ‐ Aug 17, 2019 9:45am


fMRI-based Biomarkers for Pain

Interventional Pain Management

Target Audience: Clinicians & researchers addressing acute or chronic pain

Learning Objectives

As a result of participating in this activity, learners will be better able to:

  • Utilize diagnostic biomarkers when formulating a diagnosis or treatment plan


Translational neuroscience is a field at the intersection of basic neuroscience and clinical applications. The ‘Neurologic Pain Signature’ is a sensitive neurobiologic model specific to pain in individuals, involving brain regions that receive nociceptive afferents, and showing little effect of expectation or self-regulation in tests. Another model, the ‘Stimulus Intensity-Independent Pain Signature’, explains substantial additional variation in trial-to-trial pain reports.

Additional Reading

  • Pizzo, P. A., Clark, N. M., & Carter-Pokras, O. (2011). Relieving pain in America: A blueprint for transforming prevention, care, education, and research. IOM (Institute of Medicine).
  • Brinjikji, W., Luetmer, P. H., Comstock, B., Bresnahan, B. W., Chen, L. E., Deyo, R. A., ... & Wald, J. T. (2015). Systematic literature review of imaging features of spinal degeneration in asymptomatic populations. American Journal of Neuroradiology, 36(4), 811-816.
  • Neugebauer, V., & Li, W. (2003). Differential sensitization of amygdala neurons to afferent inputs in a model of arthritic pain. Journal of Neurophysiology, 89(2), 716-727.
  • Carrasquillo, Y., & Gereau, R. W. (2007). Activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase in the amygdala modulates pain perception. Journal of Neuroscience, 27(7), 1543-1551.
  • Robinson, L. F., Atlas, L. Y., & Wager, T. D. (2015). Dynamic functional connectivity using state-based dynamic community structure: Method and application to opioid analgesia. NeuroImage, 108, 274-291.
  • Wager, T. D., & Atlas, L. Y. (2015). The neuroscience of placebo effects: connecting context, learning and health. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(7), 403.
  • Woo, C. W., Chang, L. J., Lindquist, M. A., & Wager, T. D. (2017). Building better biomarkers: brain models in translational neuroimaging. Nature Neuroscience, 20(3), 365.
  • Kross, E., Berman, M. G., Mischel, W., Smith, E. E., & Wager, T. D. (2011). Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(15), 6270-6275.
  • Wager, T. D., Rilling, J. K., Smith, E. E., Sokolik, A., Casey, K. L., Davidson, R. J., ... & Cohen, J. D. (2004). Placebo-induced changes in FMRI in the anticipation and experience of pain. Science, 303(5661), 1162-1167.
  • Wager, T. D., Atlas, L. Y., Botvinick, M. M., Chang, L. J., Coghill, R. C., Davis, K. D., ... & Yarkoni, T. (2016). Pain in the ACC?. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(18), E2474-E2475.
  • Wager, T. D., Atlas, L. Y., Lindquist, M. A., Roy, M., Woo, C. W., & Kross, E. (2013). An fMRI-based neurologic signature of physical pain. New England Journal of Medicine, 368(15), 1388-1397.
  • Reddan, M. C., & Wager, T. D. (2018). Modeling pain using fMRI: from regions to biomarkers. Neuroscience Bulletin, 34(1), 208-215.


  • Tor Wager, PhD, Diana L. Taylor Distinguished Professor in Neuroscience, Dartmouth College

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