Inferring the Infant Pain Experience: A Translational fMRI-Based Signature Approach
Duff EP., Moultrie F., Goksan S., van der Vaart M., Abos A., Baxter L., Fitzgibbon SP., Wager TD., Slater R.
$$An infant9s lack of verbal communication makes it challenging to infer their sensory and emotional experiences. Improving our interpretation of their perceptions will enhance our understanding of human brain development and improve the clinical care of infants. Multivariate neuroimaging signatures have been validated and developed in adults, which capture aspects of the human pain experience. Here we translate these fMRI signatures to infants in order to draw inferences about their experience of nociceptive events. We find that the Neurologic Pain Signature (NPS), which reflects the nociceptive and intensity encoding aspects of pain experience, is consistently activated in a cohort of adults (n=10) and in two cohorts of infants (n=15 & n=22). However, evidence of higher-level cognitive modulation of the nociceptive input, characterised by the Stimulus Intensity Independent Pain Signature (SIIPS1), is observed in adults but not observed in infants. This study expands the use of brain signatures to infer and deconstruct the experience of pain in non-verbal populations and provides a framework to better understand the early development of human sensory and emotional experience.$$