Paracetamol alters empathy scores in healthy and headache subjects: Functional MRI correlates

Cankaya S., Oktem E. O., Saatci O., VELİOĞLU H. A., Uygur A. B., Ozsimsek A., ...More

Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, vol.78, pp.215-221, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 78
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.jocn.2020.04.053
  • Journal Name: Journal of Clinical Neuroscience
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, EMBASE, MEDLINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.215-221
  • Keywords: Paracetamol, fMRI, Pain Empathy
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


Introduction: Although previous evidence suggest that paracetamol decreases psychological reactivity in healthy subjects, there is still no confirmed correlation between the empathy scores and brain activity in healthy and headache patients after paracetamol treatment. Material and methods: The study group included 16 patients with tension-type headache, and 12 healthy age-and sex-matched controls. After a detailed neurological examination Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) and Empathy for Pain Scale (EPS) were applied to all subjects. Next, 1000 mg paracetamol tablet was administered orally, after administration of paracetamol, EPS were repeated, and fMRI was performed to all subjects. Results: We have revealed increased empathy scores in the headache group after the paracetamol treatment which were associated with significant alterations in brain regions which play a critical role in the processing of empathy. Discussion: The observed neuroimaging and clinical difference between healthy and headache subjects could be related to the fact that pain perception in healthy subjects might differ in some aspects from the mechanisms of empathy in headache-experienced patients. Conclusion: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that evaluated the paracetamol treatment and neural networks' correlation with pain empathy in healthy and headache individuals.