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Inhibitory effects do not depend on the subjective experience of pain during heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulation (HNCS): a contribution to the psychophysics of pain inhibition

MPS-Authors

Lautenbacher,  S
Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society;

Roscher,  S
Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society;

Strian,  F
Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Lautenbacher, S., Roscher, S., & Strian, F. (2002). Inhibitory effects do not depend on the subjective experience of pain during heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulation (HNCS): a contribution to the psychophysics of pain inhibition. European Journal of Pain-London, 6(5), 365-374.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-A293-C
Abstract
Heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulation (HNCS) has been thought to give access to the diffuse noxious inhibitory controls (DNIC) in man, which can be activated in wide-dynamic- range neurons by noxious stimulation from remote areas of the body and form the neurophysiological basis of the phenomenon ''pain inhibits pain''. The latter phenomenon suggests that the subjective experience of pain is a prerequisite for an inhibitory action. The necessity of using painful stimuli as conditioning and as test stimuli to produce inhibitory effects was investigated in the present study, using a HNCS paradigm. Twenty young men received conditioning stimuli created by tonic heat at painful and non-painful levels, using either hot water (hand) or thermode (forearm). The test stimuli were phasic heat stimuli (thermode) at painful and non-painful levels applied to the cheek. Only painful but not non-painful heat as conditioning stimulus increased the heat pain threshold and decreased the ability to discriminate between painful heat of different intensities. These two findings are in accord with an inhibitory effect depending on a painful conditioning stimulus. However, the intensity ratings of the test stimuli indicated inhibitory effects of the conditioning stimuli also upon non- painful levels. Furthermore, non-painful heat as conditioning stimulus also appeared to be capable of decreasing the ratings of the test stimuli at painful levels. The latter two findings suggest: (i) that very strong but subjectively still non- painful stimulation can trigger pain inhibitory effects and (ii) that also subjectively non-painful stimuli are affected by inhibitory influences during HNCS. (C) 2002 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd on behalf of European Federation of Chapters of the International Association for the Study of Pai