The role of ongoing oscillation in pain perception: Absence of modulation by a concomitant arithmetic task

Chiara Leu*, Arthur Courtin, Céline Cussac, Giulia Liberati

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Sustained nociceptive stimuli have been shown to modulate the amplitude of ongoing neural oscillations in the theta, alpha and beta frequency bands at the frequency of stimulation, suggesting a relationship between these ongoing oscillations and pain perception. Yet, whether these ongoing oscillations are actually related to the pain experience remains unclear. If it were the case, then cognitive processes that are known to affect pain intensity should also affect these ongoing oscillations. To this end, we used electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate whether distraction – an attentional state known to affect pain perception – also modulates the amplitude of these neural oscillations. More specifically, we hypothesized that performing an unrelated arithmetic task during sustained nociceptive stimulation would lead to a decrease in the modulations of ongoing oscillations exerted by the stimulation. To assess the selectivity of this modulation for nociception, we compared the modulations of ongoing oscillations exerted by sustained periodic thermonociceptive and non-nociceptive vibrotactile stimulation (.2 Hz, 75 sec), while participants were either asked to solve an unrelated arithmetic task (distraction task) or received no specific instruction (baseline). The intensity of perception was significantly reduced by the arithmetic task in both the thermonociceptive and the vibrotactile modality, and the sustained periodic stimulation elicited a periodic response at the frequency of stimulation in both modalities. However, the distraction task did not show a differential effect for the two stimulation modalities in any of the frequency bands. The fact that, unlike pain perception, these oscillations did not appear to be affected by the task suggests that they are dissociable from pain perception. Whether a different task (leading to a stronger degree of distraction) could lead to different results is unclear.

Sider (fra-til)114-129
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2023


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