Skip to main content

Viewing the body modulates both pain sensations and pain responses

Beck, Brianna, Làdavas, Elisabetta, Haggard, Patrick (2016) Viewing the body modulates both pain sensations and pain responses. Experimental Brain Research, 234 (7). pp. 1795-1805. ISSN 0014-4819. (doi:10.1007/s00221-016-4585-9) (KAR id:70407)

PDF Publisher pdf
Language: English

Download (649kB) Preview
[thumbnail of Beck2016_Article_ViewingTheBodyModulatesBothPai.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Official URL


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.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s00221-016-4585-9
Uncontrolled keywords: Crossmodal; Body; Nociception; Pain; Signal detection
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Brianna Beck
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2018 12:31 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:59 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Beck, Brianna:
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year