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Chinese authors have produced a systematic review that offers an overview of the influence of acupuncture on functional connectivity networks in the brain. Forty-four resting-state fMRI neuroimaging studies were included in their analysis, including trials with both healthy subjects, and patients with nervous system, motor system and other diseases. Compared with sham acupuncture, verum acupuncture was found to increase default mode network and sensorimotor network connectivity with pain-, affective- and memory-related brain areas. Verum acupuncture involves significantly greater connectivity between the periaqueductal gray, anterior cingulate cortex, left posterior cingulate cortex, right anterior insula, limbic/paralimbic area and precuneus, compared with sham acupuncture. Some studies also showed that acupuncture could affect the limbic-paralimbic-neocortical network, brainstem, cerebellum, subcortical and hippocampus brain areas. The authors conclude that the activation of functional connectivity networks in the brain is closely related to the mechanism of acupuncture, and that integration in the brain plays a critical role in the effects of acupuncture.

Brain functional connectivity network studies of acupuncture: a systematic review on resting-state fMRI. J Integr Med. 2018 Jan;16(1):26-33.


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