Ina Skyt

Experimental orofacial pain and sensory deprivation lead to perceptual distortion of the face in healthy volunteers

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Patients suffering from persistent orofacial pain may sporadically report that the painful area feels “swollen” or “differently,” a phenomenon that may be conceptualized as a perceptual distortion because there are no clinical signs of swelling present. Our aim was to investigate whether standardized experimental pain and sensory deprivation of specific orofacial test sites would lead to changes in the size perception of these face areas. Twenty-four healthy participants received either 0.2 mL hypertonic saline (HS) or local anesthetics (LA) into six regions (buccal, mental, lingual, masseter muscle, infraorbital and auriculotemporal nerve regions). Participants estimated the perceived size changes in percentage (0 % = no change, −100 % = half the size or +100 % = double the size), and somatosensory function was checked with tactile stimuli. The pain intensity was rated on a 0–10 Verbal Numerical Rating Scale (VNRS), and sets of psychological questionnaires were completed. HS and LA were associated with significant self-reported perceptual distortions as indicated by consistent increases in perceived size of the adjacent face areas (P ≤ 0.050). Perceptual distortion was most pronounced in the buccal region, and the smallest increase was observed in the auriculotemporal region. HS was associated with moderate levels of pain VNRS = 7.3 ± 0.6. Weak correlations were found between HS-evoked perceptual distortion and level of dissociation in two regions (P 

Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Pages (from-to)2597-2606
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

    Research areas

  • Body representation, Local anesthesia, Orofacial pain, Painful stimulation, Perceptual distortion

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