Objective. Abnormal functional connectivity (FC) and structure in the brain are found in patients with fibromyalgia (FM). This study investigated FC and structural alterations of the visual cortical system, the emerging contributor to pain processing, in patients with FM. Methods. Thirty pain-free participants and 26 patients with FM were enrolled. Clinical characteristics were evaluated using standardized scales. Structural and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging were conducted. Seed-based FC analyses, voxel-based morphometry, and surface-based morphometry were performed. The FC and cortical structure of the visual system were compared between the 2 groups. The correlation between functional and structural changes in the visual cortical system with clinical presentation in the FM group was analyzed. Results. The patients with FM showed increased FCs within visual networks, of which the FC between the visual medial network and the right lingual gyrus (LG) was positively correlated with the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) score. However, the FM group showed decreased FCs from the visual occipital network (VON) to several regions, of which the FCs from the VON to the bilateral frontal orbital cortices were negatively correlated with the FIQ and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index scores. Cortical thickness of the lateral occipital cortex, LG, and pericalcarine in FM tended to increase. Conclusion. Altered FCs and structure in the visual cortical system might be involved in the pathomechanisms and clinical presentation in FM. These findings could potentially support further studies that seek to find diagnostic methods and mechanism-based therapies in patients with FM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1070
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2023


  • fibromyalgia
  • functional connectivity
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • pain
  • visual cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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