Persistent somatoform pain disorder (PSPD) is a mental disorder un-associated with any somatic injury and can cause severe somatosensory and emotional impairments in patients. However, so far, the neuro-pathophysiological mechanism of the functional impairments in PSPD is still unclear. The present study assesses the difference in regional spontaneous activity between PSPD and healthy controls (HC) during a resting state, in order to elucidate the neural mechanisms underlying PSPD. Resting-state functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging data were obtained from 13 PSPD patients and 23 age- and gender-matched HC subjects in this study. Kendall's coefficient of concordance was used to measure regional homogeneity (ReHo), and a two-sample t-test was subsequently performed to investigate the ReHo difference between PSPD and HC. Additionally, the correlations between the mean ReHo of each survived area and the clinical assessments were further analyzed. Compared with the HC group, patients with PSPD exhibited decreased ReHo in the bilateral primary somatosensory cortex, posterior cerebellum, and occipital lobe, while increased ReHo in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and default mode network (including the medial PFC, right inferior parietal lobe (IPL), and left supramarginal gyrus). In addition, significant positive correlations were found between the mean ReHo of both right IPL and left supramarginal gyrus and participants' Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS) scores, and between the mean ReHo of the left middle frontal gyrus and Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) scores. Our results suggest that abnormal spontaneous brain activity in specific brain regions during a resting state may be associated with the dysfunctions in pain, memory and emotional processing commonly observed in patients with PSPD. These findings help us to understand the neural mechanisms underlying PSPD and suggest that the ReHo metric could be used as a clinical marker for PSPD
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