Multi-experimental insights of the cognitive depletion effect on self-pain perception and skin conductance

ContributorsFournier, Raphaël
Master program titleMaîtrise universitaire en neurosciences
Defense date2022-01-27

Pain is a complex, universal and subjective experience. Many previous experimental studies highlighted cortical and subcortical areas involved in the processing of the painful experience (Apkarian et al., 2005; Dubé et al., 2009; Kuner & Kuner, 2021) and the autonomic responses elicited by pain (Loggia et al., 2011; Cowen et al., 2015). From these studies, results revealed that pain is highly associated with cognition, one affecting the other when involved at the same time (Legrain et al., 2009; Oosterman et al., 2011). But more recent studies investigated the after-effect that cognition has, when its resources are depleted, on the perceived pain and suggested that pain modulatory mechanisms were less efficient after a high cognitive control needed for the completion of a high load cognitive task (Silvestrini & Rainville, 2013; Silvestrini et al., 2020). Given that this hypothesis was evoked for one particular cognitive task and without investigating for the autonomic responses elicited by pain, I wanted to confirm that the after-effects of cognitive depletion on pain expended to other cognitive tasks, as well as to the skin conductance response (SCR) and heart rate response provoked by pain. This thesis has the aim to present and discuss some results of three experiments realized in order to study the effect of the depletion of cognitive resources on the self-pain and on the others'pain. This thesis will focus on the self-pain ratings after a laser stimulation and the skin conductance response and heart rate response to the painful stimulation. In Experiment 1, participants received painful stimulations (laser or videos) after each of the 4 successive blocks in a randomize condition of the N-back task (either 0-back or 3-back). Each 2 blocks, the stimulation nature changed (from laser to videos or vice versa). After the first 4 blocks, the conditions of the task changed (from 0-back to 3-back or vice versa). In Experiment 2, the experimental session was the same than used in Experiment 1, except for the cognitive task used. Here we used a numerical Stroop task similar to the one used by Silvestrini & Rainville (2013). The two conditions of the tasks were the low load condition "Control" and the high load condition "Interference". In Experiment 3, we used the same experimental session than Experiment 2 but inside a MRI scanner. For low pain intensities, the results from Experiment 2 revealed that pain ratings tend to be higher in the high load condition compared with the low load. For high intensities, the intensity of pain is rated lower in the high load condition compared with the low load condition. The skin conductance response tends to react the same ways the pain ratings did. These results were not observed in Experiment 1 and Experiment 3. These findings suggest that cognitive control (but not all cognitively challenging tasks) affects the self-perception of pain, and this effect tends to expend to the autonomic electrodermal activity. Moreover, they show that an automatic response of the pain modulatory mechanisms when the pain is perceived as too much intense, being automatically reduced (Bernstein & Claypool, 2012, Kandel & Schwartz, 2000).

Citation (ISO format)
FOURNIER, Raphaël. Multi-experimental insights of the cognitive depletion effect on self-pain perception and skin conductance. 2022.
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Master thesis
  • PID : unige:159947

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Creation03/29/2022 9:13:00 AM
First validation03/29/2022 9:13:00 AM
Update time03/16/2023 2:59:33 AM
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