Neural correlates of somatoform disorders from a meta-analytic perspective on neuroimaging studies

Markus Boeckle, Marlene Schrimpf, Gregor Liegl, Christoph Pieh

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

44 Citations (Scopus)


Somatoform disorders (SD) are common medical disorders with prevalence rates between 3.5% and 18.4%, depending on country and medical setting. SD as outlined in the ICD-10 exhibits various biological, social, and psychological pathogenic factors. Little is known about the neural correlates of SD. The aims of this meta-analysis are to identify neuronal areas that are involved in SD and consistently differ between patients and healthy controls. We conducted a systematic literature research on neuroimaging studies of SD. Ten out of 686 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were analyzed using activation likelihood estimation. Five neuronal areas differ between patients with SD and healthy controls namely the premotor and supplementary motor cortexes, the middle frontal gyrus, the anterior cingulate cortex, the insula, and the posterior cingulate cortex. These areas seem to have a particular importance for the occurrence of SD. Out of the ten studies two did not contribute to any of the clusters. Our results seem to largely overlap with the circuit network model of somatosensory amplification for SD. It is conceivable that functional disorders, independent of the clinical impression, show similar neurobiological processes. While overlaps do occur it is necessary to understand single functional somatic syndromes and their aetiology for future research, terminology, and treatment guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-613
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Brain/diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Mapping
  • Databases, Bibliographic/statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuroimaging/methods
  • Somatoform Disorders/diagnostic imaging


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