Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than 3 months or lasts longer than tissue healing should naturally take, which can limit patients’ daily activities. Chronic pain impacts 20% of people worldwide, preferentially affecting vulnerable and marginalized populations. We aimed to use fMRI/PET imaging of the brain to determine the efficacy and therapeutic use of Neuro-emotional Technique (NET) therapy for chronic pain patients. We anticipated that NET Therapy would result in decreased activity in areas of the brain associated with pain and decreased perception of pain. Patients who have been suffering chronic pain conditions were used as the experimental group for this study versus healthy controls. All participants underwent an initial fMRI/PET scan of the brain and a repeat scan 8 weeks later. The experimental group received NET therapy interventions between these two scans. Software was then used to assess for statistically significant changes in brain activity throughout major brain structures based on the fMRI/PET scans. Significant brain activity increases were noted in the intervention group in the amygdala and midbrain, with significant activity decreases in the anterior orbital gyrus and retrosplenial area. As expected, no significant changes were noted in the control group. These preliminary findings suggest that NET therapy may be beneficial for chronic pain patients, as we see increased activity in the amygdala and midbrain, structures involved in pain modulation, and decreased activity in the anterior orbital gyrus and retrosplenial area, brain areas associated with higher cognitive functioning. These preliminary results seem to support our original hypothesis that brain areas involved in pain signalling would be downregulated in chronic pain patients following NET therapy, while pain modulation areas would have increased activity. However, these results are based on a small sample size. Continuation of this study with more participants and analysis of pain surveys before and after NET therapy are also needed to provide a wider pool of data, as well as compare any changes in brain activity to patients’ perceived pain. Once this study is expanded, if our hypothesis continues to be data supported, NET therapy could be used to replace/supplement opiates and other analgesics, and could drastically improve the pain and lives of many chronic pain patients.
Annous, Layla and Newberg, Andrew, "NET Therapy Effect on Chronic Pain Patients: an fMRI/PET Imaging Study" (2021). Phase 1. Paper 21.