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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 175278, 14 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/175278
Research Article

Brain Responses to Acupuncture Are Probably Dependent on the Brain Functional Status

1Laboratory of Digital Medical Imaging, The First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui University of TCM, Hefei, Anhui 230031, China
2Life Sciences Research Center, School of Life Sciences and Technology, Xidian University, Xi'an, Shaanxi 710071, China
3Key Laboratory of Complex Systems and Intelligence Science, Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.O. Box 2728, Beijing 100190, China

Received 31 January 2013; Revised 7 April 2013; Accepted 30 April 2013

Academic Editor: Vitaly Napadow

Copyright © 2013 Chuanfu Li et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

In recent years, neuroimaging studies of acupuncture have explored extensive aspects of brain responses to acupuncture in finding its underlying mechanisms. Most of these studies have been performed on healthy adults. Only a few studies have been performed on patients with diseases. Brain responses to acupuncture in patients with the same disease at different pathological stages have not been explored, although it may be more important and helpful in uncovering its underlying mechanisms. In the present study, we used fMRI to compare brain responses to acupuncture in patients with Bell’s palsy at different pathological stages with normal controls and found that the brain response to acupuncture varied at different pathological stages of Bell’s palsy. The brain response to acupuncture decreased in the early stages, increased in the later stages, and nearly returned to normal in the recovered group. All of the changes in the brain response to acupuncture could be explained as resulting from the changes in the brain functional status. Therefore, we proposed that the brain response to acupuncture is dependent on the brain functional status, while further investigation is needed to provide more evidence in support of this proposition.