Acupuncture Continuing Education

MRI Study Reveals Acupuncture Mechanisms

A recent study published in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging demonstrates the neurophysiological effects of acupuncture using MRI technology. The researchers applied acupuncture to acupoint GB40 (Qixu) and acupuncture point K3 (Taixi). Results showed that GB40 stimulation specifically enhanced “connectivity between the superior temporal gyrus (STG) and anterior insula.” The STG is part of the temporal lobe of the brain located above the area of the ear. The anterior insula of the brain is located between the temporal lobe and the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex. K3 (Taixi) showed different results. K3 (Taixi) increased the connection strength between the STG and the postcentral gyrus. This distinction between GB40’s enhancement of the precentral gyrus and K3’s enhancement of the postcentral gyrus demonstrates acupuncture’s causal specificity of stimulation to differing acupuncture points. The researchers conclude that, “The current study demonstrates that acupuncture at different acupoints could exert different modulatory effects on RSNs. Our findings may help to understand the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying acupuncture specificity.”

Zhong, C., Bai, L., Dai, R., Xue, T., Wang, H., Feng, Y., Liu, Z., You, Y., Chen, S. and Tian, J. (2011), Modulatory effects of acupuncture on resting-state networks: A functional MRI study combining independent component analysis and multivariate granger causality analysis. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging.