CUED Publications database

Poor judgment of distance between nociceptive stimuli.

Mancini, F and Steinitz, H and Steckelmacher, J and Iannetti, GD and Haggard, P (2015) Poor judgment of distance between nociceptive stimuli. Cognition, 143. pp. 41-47.

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Abstract

Although pain is traditionally assumed to be poorly localized, recent work indicates that spatial acuity for nociception is surprisingly high. Here we investigated whether the nervous system can also accurately estimate the distance between two nociceptive stimuli. Estimating distance implies a metric representation of spatial relations, a property that underlies abilities such as perceiving the size of external objects. We presented pairs of simultaneous nociceptive or non-nociceptive somatosensory stimuli, and asked participants to judge the distance between them. Judgments of distance between nociceptive stimuli were much worse than judgments of distance between non-nociceptive tactile stimuli, even on skin regions where spatial acuity for nociception exceeded spatial acuity for touch. Control experiments ruled out explanations based on inaccurate localization of double nociceptive stimuli. Thus, the nervous system poorly represents the distance between two nociceptive stimuli. The dissociation between high spatial acuity and poor distance judgment in the nociceptive system may reflect a specialization for computing accurate spatial representations useful to protect the body, rather than to perceive the size of external objects.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Nociception Pain Parietal cortex Somatosensory system Space Spatial remapping Touch Adult Female Humans Judgment Male Pain Physical Stimulation Space Perception Touch Touch Perception Young Adult
Subjects: UNSPECIFIED
Divisions: Div F > Computational and Biological Learning
Depositing User: Cron Job
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2017 19:39
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2017 02:18
DOI: