New research reports that hyperreactive brain networks could play a part in the hypersensitivity of fibromyalgia. A new study finds that patients with fibromyalgia have brain networks primed for rapid, global responses to minor changes. This abnormal hypersensitivity, called explosive synchronization (ES), can be seen in other network phenomena across nature. Researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School and Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea report evidence of ES in the brains of people with fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by widespread, chronic pain. The open-access article, published online on January 10, 2018 in Scientific Reports, details only the second study of ES in human brain data. The article is titled “Functional Brain Network Mechanism of Hypersensitivity in Chronic Pain.” "For the first time, this research shows that the hypersensitivity experienced by chronic pain patients may result from hypersensitive brain networks," says co-senior author Richard Harris, PhD, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology with the Chronic Pain & Fatigue Research Center (http://www.med.umich.edu/painresearch/) at the University of Michigan Medical School. "The subjects had conditions similar to other networks that undergo explosive synchronization." In ES, a small stimulus can lead to a dramatic synchronized reaction in the network, as can happen with a power grid failure (that rapidly turns things off) or a seizure (that rapidly turns things on). This phenomenon was, until recently, studied in physics rather than medicine. Researchers say it's a promising avenue to explore in the continued quest to determine how a person develops fibromyalgia.
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