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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2019, Article ID 2687150, 10 pages
Research Article

Hyperexcitability of Cortical Oscillations in Patients with Somatoform Pain Disorder: A Resting-State EEG Study

1School of Psychology, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, China
2Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Affective and Social Cognitive Science, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, China
3Department of Pain Medicine and Shenzhen Municipal Key Laboratory for Pain Medicine, Shenzhen Nanshan People’s Hospital of Shenzhen University Health Science Center, Shenzhen, China
4School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China
5Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Correspondence should be addressed to Wutao Lou; moc.liamg@oatuwuol and Weiwei Peng; moc.liamg@3290gnep.ww

Received 18 November 2018; Revised 16 April 2019; Accepted 15 May 2019; Published 9 July 2019

Guest Editor: Matteo Feurra

Copyright © 2019 Qian Ye 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.


Patients with somatoform pain disorder (SPD) suffer from somatic pain that cannot be fully explained by specific somatic pathology. While the pain experience requires the integration of sensory and contextual processes, the cortical oscillations have been suggested to play a crucial role in pain processing and integration. The present study is aimed at identifying the abnormalities of spontaneous cortical oscillations among patients with SPD, thus for a better understanding of the ongoing brain states in these patients. Spontaneous electroencephalography data during a resting state with eyes open were recorded from SPD patients and healthy controls, and their cortical oscillations as well as functional connectivity were compared using both electrode-level and source-level analysis. Compared with healthy controls, SPD patients exhibited greater resting-state alpha oscillations (8.5-12.5 Hz) at the parietal region, as reflected by both electrode-level spectral power density and exact low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (eLORETA) cortical current density. A significant correlation between parietal alpha oscillation and somatization severity was observed in SPD patients, after accounting for the influence of anxiety and depression. Functional connectivity analysis further revealed a greater frontoparietal connectivity of the resting-state alpha oscillations in SPD patients, which was indexed by the coherence between pairs of electrodes and the linear connectivity between pairs of eLORETA cortical sources. The enhanced resting-state alpha oscillation in SPD patients could be relevant with attenuated sensory information gating and excessive integration of pain-related information, while the enhanced frontoparietal connectivity could be reflecting their sustained attention to bodily sensations and hypervigilance to somatic sensations.