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Viewing the body modulates both pain sensations and pain responses

Beck, B; Làdavas, E; Haggard, P; (2016) Viewing the body modulates both pain sensations and pain responses. Experimental Brain Research , 234 (7) pp. 1795-1805. 10.1007/s00221-016-4585-9. Green open access

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Abstract

Viewing the body can influence pain perception, even when vision is non-informative about the noxious stimulus. Prior studies used either continuous pain rating scales or pain detection thresholds, which cannot distinguish whether viewing the body changes the discriminability of noxious heat intensities or merely shifts reported pain levels. In Experiment 1, participants discriminated two intensities of heat-pain stimulation. Noxious stimuli were delivered to the hand in darkness immediately after participants viewed either their own hand or a non-body object appearing in the same location. The visual condition varied randomly between trials. Discriminability of the noxious heat intensities (d') was lower after viewing the hand than after viewing the object, indicating that viewing the hand reduced the information about stimulus intensity available within the nociceptive system. In Experiment 2, the hand and the object were presented in separate blocks of trials. Viewing the hand shifted perceived pain levels irrespective of actual stimulus intensity, biasing responses toward 'high pain' judgments. In Experiment 3, participants saw the noxious stimulus as it approached and touched their hand or the object. Seeing the pain-inducing event counteracted the reduction in discriminability found when viewing the hand alone. These findings show that viewing the body can affect both perceptual processing of pain and responses to pain, depending on the visual context. Many factors modulate pain; our study highlights the importance of distinguishing modulations of perceptual processing from modulations of response bias.

Type: Article
Title: Viewing the body modulates both pain sensations and pain responses
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s00221-016-4585-9
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00221-016-4585-9
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2016 Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Body, Crossmodal, Nociception, Pain, Signal detection
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1487954
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