Site-specific differences in central processing of visceral stimuli from the rectum and the descending colon in men

M. Kanazawa, T. Hamaguchi, S. Watanabe, T. Terui, H. Mine, M. Kano, S. Fukudo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background It has been reported that different brain activation areas are demonstrated during somatosensory and visceral stimulation. However, no study thus far has investigated how activated patterns in the human brain differ during visceral stimulation of different sites of the digestive tracts. The aim of this study was to determine possible site-specific differences in brain responses and perceptions during visceral stimulation of two different sites, the intraluminal distentions of the rectum and descending colon. Methods Regional cerebral blood flow was assessed in 32 healthy right-handed male subjects using H215O positron emission tomography during distention of the rectum (R group, n = 16) or descending colon (DC group, n = 16) at 40 or 20 mmHg. Key Results R group reported significantly higher scores of abdominal pain (P < 0.05) and urge to defecate (P < 0.001) during the application of stimulus at 40 mmHg compared with DC group but not of abdominal bloating or anxiety. In comparisons of response to the 40-mmHg stimulus, R group showed significantly greater activation in posterior midcingulate cortex (MCC) and right anterior and posterior insula, whereas DC group showed greater activation in subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), perigenual ACC and left orbitofrontal and superior temporal cortices. Conclusions & Inferences These findings suggest that central projections of painful visceral stimulation from the rectum and descending colon differ in affective, cognitive and nociceptive processing in the brain, which may result in different perceptions of visceral stimulation from different sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-180+e53
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Feb


  • Brain activation
  • Colonic distention
  • Descending colon
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Rectum


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