Research Topic: Voxel-based morphometry


Voxel based morphometry, the voxel-wise comparison of grey matter concentration, allows the analysis of between group differences and of brain structural changes of over time. Our work used this approach to differentiate between patients with chronic pain and healthy participants. Chronic pain sufferers showed a distinct pattern of grey matter reductions in pain processing areas (Schmidt-Wilcke et al., 2005, 2008; Draganski et al., 2006) that was independent of the location of pain but depended on the duration and intensity of pain (May, 2011). Following successful treatment these alterations were (at least partially) reversed, indicating ongoing brain plasticity .

This capacity of the brain to continously adapt to internal and external stimuli was confirmed by assessing grey matter changes after a juggling paradigm (Draganski et al., 2004) that occurred after training periods as short as 7 days (Driemeyer et al., 2008) and were also reproduced in a cohort of elderly participants (Boyke et al., 2008).

Current work investigates grey matter plasticity in chronic pain patients.

Voxel-based morphometry

Key publications

Boyke J, Driemeyer J, Gaser C, Büchel C, May A (2008) Training-induced brain structure changes in the elderly. J Neurosci Off J Soc Neurosci 28:7031-7035.

Draganski B, Gaser C, Busch V, Schuierer G, Bogdahn U, May A (2004) Neuroplasticity: changes in grey matter induced by training. Nature 427:311-312.

Draganski B, Moser T, Lummel N, Gänssbauer S, Bogdahn U, Haas F, May A (2006) Decrease of thalamic gray matter following limb amputation. NeuroImage 31:951-957.

Driemeyer J, Boyke J, Gaser C, Büchel C, May A (2008) Changes in gray matter induced by learning--revisited. PloS One 3:e2669.

May A (2011) Structural brain imaging: a window into chronic pain. Neurosci Rev J Bringing Neurobiol Neurol Psychiatry 17:209-220.

Schmidt-Wilcke T, Gänssbauer S, Neuner T, Bogdahn U, May A (2008) Subtle grey matter changes between migraine patients and healthy controls. Cephalalgia Int J Headache 28:1-4.

Schmidt-Wilcke T, Leinisch E, Straube A, Kämpfe N, Draganski B, Diener HC, Bogdahn U, May A (2005) Gray matter decrease in patients with chronic tension type headache. Neurology 65:1483-1486.