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Pain relief by touch: A quantitative approach

Mancini, Flaviaa,b,*; Nash, Thomasc; Iannetti, Gian Domenicob; Haggard, Patricka

doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2013.12.024
Articles

Summary We tested whether, how, and where intrasegmental touch modulates the perception of laser-evoked, acute pain. We provide evidence for a spatial organisation of touchpain interactions within a single dermatome.

ABSTRACT Pain relief by touch has been studied for decades in pain neuroscience. Human perceptual studies revealed analgesic effects of segmental tactile stimulation, as compared to extrasegmental touch. However, the spatial organisation of touchpain interactions within a single human dermatome has not been investigated yet. In 2 experiments we tested whether, how, and where within a dermatome touch modulates the perception of laser-evoked pain. We measured pain perception using intensity ratings, qualitative descriptors, and signal detection measures of sensitivity and response bias. Touch concurrent with laser pulses produced a significant analgesia, and reduced the sensitivity in detecting the energy of laser stimulation, implying a functional loss of information within the ascending Aδ pathway. Touch also produced a bias to judge laser stimuli as less painful. This bias decreased linearly when the distance between the laser and tactile stimuli increased. Thus, our study provides evidence for a spatial organisation of intrasegmental touchpain interactions.

a Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, UK

b Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, London, UK

c Division of Medicine, University College London, London, UK

* Corresponding author at: Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AR, UK. Tel.: +44 0 2076791151.

E-mail address: f.mancini@ucl.ac.uk

Article history:

Received 24 June 2013

Received in revised form 10 December 2013

Accepted 13 December 2013

Sponsorships or competing interests that may be relevant to content are disclosed at the end of this article.

© 2014 International Association for the Study of Pain
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