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      Electrical stimulation of the anterior cingulate cortex reduces responses of rat dorsal horn neurons to mechanical stimuli.

      Journal of Neurophysiology

      Time Factors, Action Potentials, physiology, radiation effects, Analysis of Variance, Animals, Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation, Electric Stimulation, methods, Functional Laterality, Gyrus Cinguli, Male, Models, Neurological, Posterior Horn Cells, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley

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          The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is involved in the affective and motivational aspect of pain perception. Behavioral studies show a decreased avoidance behavior to noxious stimuli without change in mechanical threshold after stimulation of the ACC. However, as part of the neural circuitry of behavioral reflexes, there is no evidence showing that ACC stimulation alters dorsal horn neuronal responses. We hypothesize that ACC stimulation has two phases: a short-term phase in which stimulation elicits antinociception and a long-term phase that follows stimulation to change the affective response to noxious input. To begin testing this hypothesis, the purpose of this study was to examine the response of spinal cord dorsal horn neurons during stimulation of the ACC. Fifty-eight wide dynamic range spinal cord dorsal horn neurons from adult Sprague-Dawley rats were recorded in response to graded mechanical stimuli (brush, pressure, and pinch) at their respective receptive fields, while simultaneous stepwise electrical stimulations (300 Hz, 0.1 ms, at 10, 20, and 30 V) were applied in the ACC. The responses to brush at control, 10, 20, and 30 V, and recovery were 14.2 +/- 1.4, 12.3 +/- 1.2, 10.9 +/- 1.2, 10.3 +/- 1.1, and 14.1 +/- 1.4 spikes/s, respectively. The responses to pressure at control, 10, 20, and 30 V, and recovery were 39.8 +/- 4.7, 25.6 +/- 3.0, 25.0 +/- 3.0, 21.6 +/- 2.4, and 34.2 +/- 3.7 spikes/s, respectively. The responses to pinch at control, 10, 20, and 30 V, and recovery were 40.7 +/- 3.8, 30.6 +/- 3.1, 27.8 +/- 2.8, 27.2 +/- 3.2, and 37.4 +/- 3.9 spikes/s, respectively. We conclude that electrical stimulation of the ACC induces significant inhibition of the responses of spinal cord dorsal horn neurons to noxious mechanical stimuli. The stimulation-induced inhibition begins to recover as soon as the stimulation is terminated. These results suggest differential short-term and long-term modulatory effects of the ACC stimulation on nociceptive circuits.

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