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Dyspnea-related cues engage the prefrontal cortex - evidence from functional brain imaging in COPD

Herigstad, M., Hayen, A., Evans, E., Hardinge, F., Davies, R. J., Wiech, K. and Pattinson, K. T. S. (2015) Dyspnea-related cues engage the prefrontal cortex - evidence from functional brain imaging in COPD. Chest, 148 (4). pp. 953-961. ISSN 1931-3543

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1378/chest.15-0416

Abstract/Summary

Dyspnea is the major source of disability in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In COPD, environmental cues (e.g. the prospect of having to climb stairs) become associated with dyspnea, and may trigger dyspnea even before physical activity commences. We hypothesised that brain activation relating to such cues would be different between COPD patients and healthy controls, reflecting greater engagement of emotional mechanisms in patients. Methods: Using FMRI, we investigated brain responses to dyspnea-related word cues in 41 COPD patients and 40 healthy age-matched controls. We combined these findings with scores of self-report questionnaires thus linking the FMRI task with clinically relevant measures. This approach was adapted from studies in pain that enables identification of brain networks responsible for pain processing despite absence of a physical challenge. Results: COPD patients demonstrate activation in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) which correlated with the visual analogue scale (VAS) response to word cues. This activity independently correlated with patient-reported questionnaires of depression, fatigue and dyspnea vigilance. Activation in the anterior insula, lateral prefrontal cortex (lPFC) and precuneus correlated with the VAS dyspnea scale but not the questionnaires. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that engagement of the brain's emotional circuitry is important for interpretation of dyspnea-related cues in COPD, and is influenced by depression, fatigue, and vigilance. A heightened response to salient cues is associated with increased symptom perception in chronic pain and asthma, and our findings suggest such mechanisms may be relevant in COPD.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences > Human Nutrition Research Group
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Nutrition and Health
ID Code:40805
Publisher:American College of Chest Physicians

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