What this fMRI brain study and many others are showing is a loss of whats called cortical control over the pain system. This is where the prefrontal cortex loses its power (strength) and firing rates with chronic pain. It can’t exert the regulatory control it needs to diminish pain.
The prefrontal cortex is the answer to chronic pain that originates from the brain and nervous system. Part of the healing process I teach is learning how to get the prefrontal cortex stronger and firing so that is can help reduce ongoing pain.
This study says the same as the authors state:
‘These behavioral results suggest that scaling up prefrontal outputs by enhancing the basal activity level has anti-nociceptive effects in naive rats and rats with chronic pain.’