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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014, Article ID 568429, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/568429
Review Article

Connectomics: A New Direction in Research to Understand the Mechanism of Acupuncture

1The Acupuncture and Tuina School, The 3rd Teaching Hospital, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, No. 37, Shierqiao Road, Chengdu, Sichuan 610075, China
2Psychosomatic Medicine Department, Sichuan Academy of Medical Sciences & Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital, Chengdu, Sichuan 610072, China

Received 21 October 2013; Accepted 26 November 2013; Published 2 January 2014

Academic Editor: Cun-Zhi Liu

Copyright © 2014 Ruirui Sun 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

Acupuncture has been used to treat various disorders in China and some other eastern countries for thousands of years. Nowadays, acupuncture is gradually accepted as an alternative and complementary method in western countries for its undeniable therapeutic effects. However, its central mechanism is still unclear. It is especially difficult to reveal how different regions in the brain influence one another and how the relationship is among these regions responding to acupuncture treatment. Recently, by applying neuroimaging techniques and network theory, acupuncture studies can make further efforts to investigate the influence of acupuncture on regional cerebral functional connectivity (FC) and the modulation on “acupuncture-related” networks. Connectomics appears to be a new direction in research to further understand the central mechanism underlying acupuncture. In this paper, an overview of connectomics application in acupuncture research will be discussed, with special emphasis on present findings of acupuncture and its influence on cerebral FC. Firstly, the connectomics concept and its significance on acupuncture will be outlined. Secondly, the commonly used brain imaging techniques will be briefly introduced. Thirdly, the influence of acupuncture on FC will be discussed in greater detail. Finally, the possible direction in forthcoming research will be reviewed by analyzing the limitation of present studies.