fMRI Study of Pain Reaction in the Brain under State of "Qigong"

Author: Yu WL, Li XQ, Tang WJ, Li Y, Weng XC, Chen YZ
Shanghai Qigong Institute, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China
Conference/Journal: Am J Chin Med
Date published: 2007
Other: Volume ID: 35 , Issue ID: 6 , Pages: 937-45 , Word Count: 234

In this study, 4 male Qigong masters (aged 60 +/- 12) who had Qigong practicing experience for more than 30 years were tested. By using the technique of fMRI, the change of brain function under the state of Qigong was observed through the peripheral pain stimulation generated by potassium penetrating method. The fMRI examination was running on a GE signa VH/3.0 T MRI machine and block design was used. The test was repeated several times, which was carried out before and 15 min after Qigong practicing. The heart and respiration rate of these 4 Qigong masters were monitored during the whole test. SPM2 was used for the data analysis, and the result showed that before Qigong practicing, besides SI and SII-insula regions, many other Brodmann areas, the cigulate cortex, the thalamus, and the cerebellum were all activated, while 15 min after that, the activated areas were decreased obviously, which were mainly at the SII-insula region and some other Brodmann areas. Since the SII-insula region was activated in both of these two states, further analysis of the response curve was focused on it. Its response amplitude under the state of Qigong (3.5%) was greater than that before Qigong (1.2%). Our result indicated that the main manifestation of brain functional change under Qigong was functional suppressing, but in some particular regions such as SII-insula region in our study, the response amplitude was increased. Further study of the exact physiological mechanism of Qigong is needed.
PMID: 18186580