Patrick W. Stroman1, Brian Coe1, Chase R. Figley1, Jordan Leitch1, Doug P. Munoz1
1Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Descending control of spinal cord function has a significant influence on perceived sensations, and has important implications for the effects of trauma, if this descending control is lost or altered. Using fMRI of the healthy human spinal cord and brainstem, we observed the effects of changes in attention focus at the level of the spinal cord for the first time. The results demonstrated the greatest signal changes in the dorsal gray matter of the cervical spinal cord, as well as in the thalamus and areas involved in the descending analgesia system, when participants focused their attention on mentally-challenging multiple-choice questions.