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The influence of spatial attention on the somatosensory processing of pain

Hutten, E. (2012) The influence of spatial attention on the somatosensory processing of pain.

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Abstract:Several studies have shown that distraction modulates the processing of painful stimuli (Blom, Wiering & Van der Lubbe, in press; Van der Lubbe, Buitenweg, Boschkler, Gerdes & Jongsma, 2011). These studies used either sustained distraction (Blom et al., in press) or transient distraction (Van der Lubbe et al., 2011). Due to the differences in procedures used, it remains problematic to compare the results. The current study will try to resolve this problem by combining both sustained and transient distraction. The current study will also investigate whether people who participate for the first time in a research design during which they receive painful stimulation are more anxious than participants that have experienced painful stimulation before and whether anxiety influences their performance on the task. During the experiment, participants received high or low intensity stimuli to either their right or left arm. The participants were expected to hit a footpedal when they received a relevant stimulus, relevance was determined by the intensity and the side of stimulation. Results revealed an attenuated amplitude of the N1 component during spatial distraction compared to attention. This indicates that distraction already has an attenuating effect on the processing of pain in the somatosensory cortex. No significant difference between transient and sustained distraction was found on the N1 component. It can be argued whether it is relevant to discriminate between transient and sustained attention since they appear to result in the same process. Furthermore, no significant effect was found of the number of times participated in a similar research design before on the anxiety level. It appears that participants that participated for the first time do not experience a higher level of anxiety than participants that have participated in a similar research design before. Finally, no significant effect of the anxiety level on the false alarm rates was found. However, the anxiety scores ranged very limitedly which made it hard to draw conclusions.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/62432
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