Functional neuroanatomy of peripheral inflammatory physiology: A meta-analysis of human neuroimaging studies

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HighlightsReview of brain regions and networks associated with peripheral inflammation.Meta-analysis of 24 neuroimaging studies revealed consistently reported regions.Some regions were specific to study design and task.Patterns of regions resembled intrinsic brain networks and corticostriatal loops.Co-activated regions formed prefrontal-brainstem and insula-brainstem ensembles.Communication between the brain and peripheral mediators of systemic inflammation is implicated in numerous psychological, behavioral, and physiological processes. Functional neuroimaging studies have identified brain regions that associate with peripheral inflammation in humans, yet there are open questions about the consistency, specificity, and network characteristics of these findings. The present systematic review provides a meta-analysis to address these questions. Multilevel kernel density analysis of 24 studies (37 statistical maps; 264 coordinates; 457 participants) revealed consistent effects in the amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, striatum, insula, midbrain, and brainstem, as well as prefrontal and temporal cortices. Effects in some regions were specific to particular study designs and tasks. Spatial pattern analysis revealed significant overlap of reported effects with limbic, default mode, ventral attention, and corticostriatal networks, and co-activation analyses revealed functional ensembles encompassing the prefrontal cortex, insula, and midbrain/brainstem. Together, these results characterize brain regions and networks associated with peripheral inflammation in humans, and they provide a functional neuroanatomical reference point for future neuroimaging studies on brain-body interactions.

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