J Neurogastroenterol Motil.  2022 Apr;28(2):185-203. 10.5056/jnm21079.

Functional Neuroimaging in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review Highlights Common Brain Alterations With Functional Movement Disorders

  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze della Salute, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy
  • 2"Aldo Ravelli” Research Center for Neurotechnology and Experimental Brain Therapeutics, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy
  • 3Department of Psychology, University of Milan-Bicocca, Milan, Italy
  • 4Gastro-intestinal Surgery and Liver Transplantation Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy
  • 5Department of Pathophysiology and Organ Transplant, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy
  • 6Department of Neurology, ASST Fatebenefratelli Sacco, Ospedale Fatebenefratelli, Milan, Italy
  • 7III Clinica Neurologica, ASST Santi Paolo e Carlo, Presidio San Paolo, Milan, Italy
  • 8Unità di Psichiatria 52, ASST Santi Paolo e Carlo, Presidio San Paolo, Milan, Italy


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic functional gastrointestinal disorder characterized by recurring abdominal pain and altered bowel habits without detectable organic causes. This study aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the literature on functional neuroimaging in IBS and to highlight brain alterations similarities with other functional disorders - functional movement disorders in particular. We conducted the bibliographic search via PubMed in August 2020 and included 50 studies following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines for systematic reviews. Overall, our findings showed an aberrant activation and functional connectivity of the insular, cingulate, sensorimotor and frontal cortices, the amygdala and the hippocampus, suggesting an altered activity of the homeostatic and salience network and of the autonomous nervous system. Moreover, glutamatergic dysfunction in the anterior insula and hypothalamic pituitary axis dysregulation were often reported. These alterations seem to be very similar to those observed in patients with functional movement disorders. Hence, we speculate that different functional disturbances might share a common pathophysiology and we discussed our findings in the light of a Bayesian model framework.


Amygdala; Brain; Conversion disorders; Functional neuroimaging; Irritable bowel syndrome
Full Text Links
  • JNM
export Copy
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
Similar articles
Copyright © 2023 by Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors. All rights reserved.     E-mail: koreamed@kamje.or.kr