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We used fMRI to reveal the visual cortical activations during conventional or electro-acupuncture over four vision-implicated acupoints in 18 healthy volunteers and compared the results with those obtained during direct visual stimulation. Positive activations were seen over the visual cortex during visual stimulation in all subjects, and similar activations were observed in 10 subjects during conventional acupuncture as well as in eight and seven subjects during electro-acupuncture at 2 and 20 Hz, respectively. Negative activations were also seen over the occipital lobes, temporal gyri and frontal gyri bilaterally in 13 subjects during conventional acupuncture. Thus, acupuncture may modulate the activity of relevant brain sites. Our results also suggest that electro-acupuncture is useful in future studies.

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