Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion (Online)

JAM  2018;Vol.14:1-7

Acupuncture modulates functional connectivity of the brain:generating a small-world network in swallowing-related areas

SOMEYA Yoshiaki 1,3) AKAMA Hiroyuki 2,3)
1) Keio Advanced Research Centers, Keio University
2) Institute of Liberal Arts, Tokyo Institute of Technology
3) School of Life Science and Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology


[Introduction] Functional connectivity of the brain can be modulated by interventional stimuli and serve as an indicator of brain plasticity. Acupuncture has been argued to play an important role in the modification of neural circuits. Our objective was to elucidate the neural underpinnings of the effects of acupuncture on the act of swallowing.
[Methods] We carried out a resting-state functional connectivity analysis by replicating an acupuncture manipulation reported in a prior study wherein treatment of patients with dysphagia led to remission of swallowing difficulties by shortening latency times. We inserted needles into KI3 and ST36 in the bilateral legs of each healthy volunteer, who underwent this manipulation prior to the first and after the second resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging session.
[Results] Indices such as local efficiency and the clustering coefficient were significantly altered in some subcortical and cortico-subcortical areas. These indices moved toward what is called the "small world" in graph theory. The network vertices of interest were parts of swallowing-related, somatosensory, pain-specific, and acupuncture-related areas (specifically, left inferior frontal gyrus, left accumbens, and right cerebellum ).
[Conclusion] Although the therapeutic value and neural effects of acupuncture are still under investigation, our study may shed light on the neural underpinnings of the effects of acupuncture on the act of swallowing.

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