Title: Distraction from pain and executive functioning: An experimental investigation of the role of inhibition, task switching and working memory
Authors: Verhoeven, Katrien ×
Van Damme, Stefaan
Eccleston, Christopher
Van Ryckeghem, Dimitri M. L
Legrain, Valery
Crombez, Geert #
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: European Federation of Chapters of the International Association for the Study of Pain
Series Title: European Journal of Pain vol:15 issue:8 pages:866-873
Abstract: Although many studies have investigated the effectiveness of distraction as a method of pain control, the
cognitive processes by which attentional re-direction is achieved, remain unclear. In this study the role of
executive functioning abilities (inhibition, task switching and working memory) in the effectiveness of
distraction is investigated. We hypothesized that the effectiveness of distraction in terms of pain reduction
would be larger in participants with better executive functioning abilities. Ninety-one undergraduate
students first performed executive functioning tasks, and subsequently participated in a cold pressor
task (CPT). Participants were randomly assigned to (1) a distraction group, in which an attentiondemanding
tone-detection task was performed during the CPT, or (2) a control group, in which no distraction
task was performed. Participants in the distraction group reported significantly less pain during the
CPT, but the pain experience was not influenced by executive functioning abilities. However, the performance
on the distraction task improved with better inhibition abilities, indicating that inhibition abilities
might be important in focussing on a task despite the pain.
ISSN: 1090-3801
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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