The brain alpha rhythm in the perception and modulation of pain

Anthony Jones, Manoj Sivan, Hassan Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Chronic pain is a major cause of disability and healthcare burden worldwide. Despite this, there are currently few medications available to manage chronic pain, due to poor understanding of the underlying mechanisms. Studies in the current literature suggest that the brain alpha rhythm may be involved in pain perception. There is an inverse association between alpha activity and the perception of acute and chronic pain, which applies to alpha power in frontal and central brain regions specifically. As Alpha activity increases in frontal and central regions, pain perception decreases. Conversely increased attention to pain or expectation of pain suppresses alpha activity and increases pain perception. There is nascent evidence that increased alpha activity by external stimuli reduces the perception of experimental pain. Future research should investigate the potential of such novel treatments to reduce clinical pain.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2020


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