Neuronal correlates of symptom formation in functional somatic syndromes: a fMRI study.
ABSTRACT Functional somatic syndromes are characterized by high morbidity due to various, fluctuating symptoms without objective somatic findings. There is increasing evidence for the contribution of emotional and cognitive functions to symptom formation, which has been well established in the perception of pain. In addition to their involvement in various other cognitive and emotional processes, the anterior cingulate and insular cortex are thought to contribute to the so-called "pain neuromatrix". Recent data suggest that these areas appear also to be involved in symptom manifestation in multiple chemical sensitivity. Here we used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to test whether this network is also involved in the induction of unpleasant perceptions by sham mobile phone radiation in subjectively electrosensitive patients. This design enabled us to completely dissociate the unpleasant subjective perception from any real physical stimulus. Fifteen subjectively electrosensitive patients and 15 age- and gender-matched healthy controls were exposed to sham mobile phone radiation and heat as a control condition. The perceived stimulus intensities were rated on a five-point scale. During anticipation of and exposure to sham mobile phone radiation increased activations in anterior cingulate and insular cortex as well as fusiform gyrus were seen in the electrosensitive group compared to controls, while heat stimulation led to similar activations in both groups. Symptom manifestation during sham exposure to mobile phone radiation was accompanied by specific alterations of cortical activity in anterior cingulate and insular cortex in subjectively electrosensitive patients further supporting the involvement of these areas in the perception of unpleasantness and generation of functional somatic syndromes.
Article: Idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF): A systematic review of identifying criteria.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF) remains a complex and unclear phenomenon, often characterized by the report of various, non-specific physical symptoms (NSPS) when an EMF source is present or perceived by the individual. The lack of validated criteria for defining and assessing IEI-EMF affects the quality of the relevant research, hindering not only the comparison or integration of study findings, but also the identification and management of patients by health care providers. The objective of this review was to evaluate and summarize the criteria that previous studies employed to identify IEI-EMF participants. METHODS: An extensive literature search was performed for studies published up to June 2011. We searched EMBASE, Medline, Psychinfo, Scopus and Web of Science. Additionally, citation analyses were performed for key papers, reference sections of relevant papers were searched, conference proceedings were examined and a literature database held by the Mobile Phones Research Unit of King's College London was reviewed. RESULTS: Sixty-three studies were included. "Hypersensitivity to EMF" was the most frequently used descriptive term. Despite heterogeneity, the criteria predominantly used to identify IEI-EMF individuals were: 1. Self-report of being (hyper)sensitive to EMF. 2. Attribution of NSPS to at least one EMF source. 3. Absence of medical or psychiatric/psychological disorder capable of accounting for these symptoms 4. Symptoms should occur soon (up to 24 hours) after the individual perceives an exposure source or exposed area. (Hyper)sensitivity to EMF was either generalized (attribution to various EMF sources) or source-specific. Experimental studies used a larger number of criteria than those of observational design and performed more frequently a medical examination or interview as prerequisite for inclusion. CONCLUSIONS: Considerable heterogeneity exists in the criteria used by the researchers to identify IEI-EMF, due to explicit differences in their conceptual frameworks. Further work is required to produce consensus criteria not only for research purposes but also for use in clinical practice. This could be achieved by the development of an international protocol enabling a clearly defined case definition for IEI-EMF and a validated screening tool, with active involvement of medical practitioners.BMC Public Health 08/2012; 12(1):643. · 2.00 Impact Factor