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Individuals with nonspecific low back pain (NSLBP) show an impaired sensorimotor control. They need significantly more time to perform five consecutive sit-to-stand-to-sit (STSTS) movements compared with healthy controls. Optimal sensorimotor control depends on the coactivation of many brain regions, which have to operate as a coordinated network to achieve correct motor output. Therefore, the examination of brain connectivity from a network perspective is crucial for understanding the factors that drive sensorimotor control. In the current study, potential alterations in structural brain networks of individuals with NSLBP and the correlation with the performance of the STSTS task were investigated. Seventeen individuals with NSLBP and 17 healthy controls were instructed to perform five consecutive STSTS movements as fast as possible. In addition, data of diffusion magnetic resonance imaging were acquired and analyzed using a graph theoretical approach. Results showed that individuals with NSLBP needed significantly more time to perform the STSTS task compared with healthy controls (p  <  0.05). Both groups exhibited small-world properties in their structural networks. However, local efficiency was significantly decreased in the patients with NSLBP compared with controls (p  <  0.05, false discovery rate [FDR] corrected). Moreover, global efficiency was significantly correlated with the sensorimotor task performance within the NSLBP group (r = −0.73, p = 0.002). Our data show disrupted network organization of white matter networks in patients with NSLBP, which may contribute to their persistent pain and sensorimotor disabilities.


School of Psychology

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Journal Article

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