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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 804696, 9 pages
Research Article

Differential Localization of Pain-Related and Pain-Unrelated Neural Responses for Acupuncture at BL60 Using BOLD fMRI

1Department of Cardiology and Neurology of Korean Medicine, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
2Department of Radiology, Kyung Hee University Hospital at Gangdong, School of Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
3Stroke and Neurological Disorders Center, Kyung Hee University Hospital at Gangdong, 149 Sangil-dong, Gangdong-gu, Seoul 134-727, Republic of Korea

Received 12 April 2013; Accepted 31 May 2013

Academic Editor: David Baxter

Copyright © 2013 Na-Hee Kim 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.


The objective of this study was to differentiate between pain-related and pain-unrelated neural responses of acupuncture at BL60 to investigate the specific effects of acupuncture. A total of 19 healthy volunteers were evaluated. fMRI was performed with sham or verum acupuncture stimulation at the left BL60 before and after local anesthesia. To investigate the relative BOLD signal effect for each session, a one-sample t-test was performed for individual contrast maps, and a paired t-test to investigate the differences between the pre- and post-anesthetic signal effects. Regarding verum acupuncture, areas that were more activated before local anesthesia included the superior, middle, and medial frontal gyri, inferior parietal lobule, superior temporal gyrus, thalamus, middle temporal gyrus, cingulate gyrus, culmen, and cerebellar tonsil. The postcentral gyrus was more deactivated before local anesthesia. After local anesthesia, the middle occipital gyrus, inferior temporal gyrus, postcentral gyrus, precuneus, superior parietal lobule, and declive were deactivated. Pre-anesthetic verum acupuncture at BL60 activated areas of vision and pain transmission. Post-anesthetic verum acupuncture deactivated brain areas of visual function, which is considered to be a pain-unrelated acupuncture response. It indicates that specific effects of acupoint BL60 are to control vision sense as used in the clinical setting.