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Modulations of pain sensations

Abstract : Representation of time may affect pain perception. We investigated a group of volunteers looking at different clocks while they were being exposed to the same intensity of pain in two experiments. In one case, they saw the actual time, while in the other, they gazed at a clock that made it seem like the stimulation was shortened, even though it wasn't. These results show that simply believing that time is on your side can make anything more bearable. The results were not influenced by the color of the clock (red or green), or the presence of indexes such as (sad or smiling) smileys. The effects were maximal for high intensities of stimulation (pain threshold +1°C) if the stimulation lasted for at least 25s but were absent if the stimulation was short (15 min). These results suggest that pain modulation by time context is mainly available for long and intense painful stimulations. The right upper and posterior parietal cortex may support this effect. These findings are discussed with regard to previous literature of pain modulations but also with regard to the concept of the "pain matrix", its inputs and the temporal dynamics of its constitutive responses.
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R. Peyron, F.-B. Pomares, I. Faillenot, F.-G. Barral, B. Laurent. Modulations of pain sensations. Neurophysiologie Clinique/Clinical Neurophysiology, Elsevier Masson, 2012, 42 (5), pp.293-298. ⟨10.1016/j.neucli.2012.05.001⟩. ⟨inserm-03551102⟩

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