Widespread nociceptive maps in the human neonatal somatosensory cortex

  1. Laura Jones  Is a corresponding author
  2. Madeleine Verriotis
  3. Robert J Cooper
  4. Maria Pureza Laudiano-Dray
  5. Mohammed Rupawala
  6. Judith Meek
  7. Lorenzo Fabrizi
  8. Maria Fitzgerald  Is a corresponding author
  1. University College London, United Kingdom
  2. University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom

Abstract

Topographic cortical maps are essential for spatial localisation of sensory stimulation and generation of appropriate task-related motor responses. Somatosensation and nociception are finely mapped and aligned in the adult somatosensory (S1) cortex, but in infancy, when pain behaviour is disorganised and poorly directed, nociceptive maps may be less refined. We compared the topographic pattern of S1 activation following noxious (clinically required heel lance) and innocuous (touch) mechanical stimulation of the same skin region in newborn infants (n=32) using multi-optode functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Within S1 cortex, touch and lance of the heel elicit localised, partially overlapping increases in oxygenated haemoglobin concentration (D[HbO]), but while touch activation was restricted to the heel area, lance activation extended into cortical hand regions. The data reveals a widespread cortical nociceptive map in infant S1, consistent with their poorly directed pain behaviour.

Data availability

All raw data files are open access and are available to download from Figshare (https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.13252388.v2).

The following data sets were generated

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Laura Jones

    Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, London, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    laura.a.jones@ucl.ac.uk
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-5755-4977
  2. Madeleine Verriotis

    Department of Developmental Neuroscience, University College London, London, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-3019-0370
  3. Robert J Cooper

    Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, University College London, London, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Maria Pureza Laudiano-Dray

    Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, London, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Mohammed Rupawala

    Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, London, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Judith Meek

    Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Obstetric Wing, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Lorenzo Fabrizi

    Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, London, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9582-0727
  8. Maria Fitzgerald

    Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, London, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    m.fitzgerald@ucl.ac.uk
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-4188-0123

Funding

Medical Research Council (MR/M006468/1)

  • Judith Meek
  • Lorenzo Fabrizi
  • Maria Fitzgerald

Medical Research Council (MR/L019248/1)

  • Lorenzo Fabrizi

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/N025946/1)

  • Robert J Cooper

Medical Research Council (MR/S003207/1)

  • Judith Meek
  • Lorenzo Fabrizi
  • Maria Fitzgerald

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: Ethical approval for this study was given by the NHS Health Research Authority (London - Surrey Borders) and the study conformed to the standards set by the Declaration of Helsinki. Informed written parental consent was obtained before each study (REC no: 11/LO/0350; NIHR Portfolio Study ID: 12036). Separate media consent was obtained from the parent to use a photo of their child in academic publications (Figure 4a).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Chris I Baker, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: June 25, 2021
  2. Preprint posted: July 30, 2021 (view preprint)
  3. Accepted: April 22, 2022
  4. Accepted Manuscript published: April 22, 2022 (version 1)
  5. Version of Record published: May 10, 2022 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2022, Jones et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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  1. Laura Jones
  2. Madeleine Verriotis
  3. Robert J Cooper
  4. Maria Pureza Laudiano-Dray
  5. Mohammed Rupawala
  6. Judith Meek
  7. Lorenzo Fabrizi
  8. Maria Fitzgerald
(2022)
Widespread nociceptive maps in the human neonatal somatosensory cortex
eLife 11:e71655.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.71655

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