Title: The role of working memory in the attentional control of pain
Authors: Legrain, Valery ×
Crombez, Geert
Verhoeven, Katrien
Mouraux, Andre #
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Elsevier/North-Holland
Series Title: Pain vol:152 issue:2 pages:453-459
Abstract: Attention is acknowledged as an important factor in the modulation of pain. A recent model proposed
that an effective control of pain by attention should not only involve the disengagement of selective
attention away from nociceptive stimuli, but should also guarantee that attention is maintained on the
processing of pain-unrelated information without being recaptured by the nociceptive stimuli. This
model predicts that executive functions are involved in the control of selective attention by preserving
goal priorities throughout the achievement of cognitive activities. In the present study, we tested the role
of working memory in the attentional control of nociceptive stimuli. In the control condition, participants
had to discriminate the color of visually presented circles preceded by tactile distracters. In some trials
(20%), tactile stimuli were replaced by novel nociceptive distracters in order to manipulate the attentional
capture. In the working memory condition, participants had to respond to the visual stimulus presented
one trial before, and were thus required to maintain the color of the visual stimulus in working
memory during the entire inter-trial time interval. Results showed that, while novel nociceptive stimuli
induced greater distraction than regular tactile stimuli in the control condition, the distractive effect was
suppressed in the working memory condition. This suggests that actively rehearsing the feature of painunrelated
and task-relevant targets successfully prevents attention from being captured by novel nociceptive
distracters, independently of general task demands.
ISSN: 0304-3959
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Non-KU Leuven Association publications
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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