No perceptual prioritization of non-nociceptive vibrotactile and visual stimuli presented on a sensitized body part

D M Torta, L Filbrich, E N Van Den Broeke, V Legrain
Scientific Reports 2018 March 29, 8 (1): 5359
High frequency electrical conditioning stimulation (HFS) is an experimental method to induce increased mechanical pinprick sensitivity in the unconditioned surrounding skin (secondary hyperalgesia). Secondary hyperalgesia is thought to be the result of central sensitization, i.e. increased responsiveness of nociceptive neurons in the central nervous system. Vibrotactile and visual stimuli presented in the area of secondary hyperalgesia also elicit enhanced brain responses, a finding that cannot be explained by central sensitization as it is currently defined. HFS may recruit attentional processes, which in turn affect the processing of all stimuli. In this study we have investigated whether HFS induces perceptual biases towards stimuli presented onto the sensitized arm by using Temporal Order Judgment (TOJ) tasks. In TOJ tasks, stimuli are presented in rapid succession on either arm, and participants have to indicate their perceived order. In case of a perceptual bias, the stimuli presented on the attended side are systematically reported as occurring first. Participants performed a tactile and a visual TOJ task before and after HFS. Analyses of participants' performance did not reveal any prioritization of the visual and tactile stimuli presented onto the sensitized arm. Our results provide therefore no evidence for a perceptual bias towards tactile and visual stimuli presented onto the sensitized arm.

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