Neural and behavioral changes driven by observationally-induced hypoalgesia.

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Neural and behavioral changes driven by observationally-induced hypoalgesia.

Sci Rep. 2019 Dec 24;9(1):19760

Authors: Raghuraman N, Wang Y, Schenk LA, Furman AJ, Tricou C, Seminowicz DA, Colloca L

Abstract
Observing successful pain treatment in others can induce anticipatory neural processes that, in turn, relieve pain. Previous studies have suggested that social learning and observation influence placebo hypoalgesia. Here, we used electroencephalography (EEG) to determine the neurophysiological changes associated with pain relief acquired through the observation. Thirty-one participants observed a demonstrator undergo painful heat stimulations paired with a “control” cream and non-painful ones paired with a “treatment” cream, which actually were both Vanicreams. After their observation, the participants then received the same creams and stimulations. We found that the treatment cream led to lower self-reported pain intensity ratings than the control cream. Anticipatory treatment cues elicited smaller P2 in electrodes F1, Fz, FC1, and FCz than the control condition. The P2 component localization indicated a higher current density in the right middle frontal gyrus, a region associated with attentional engagement. In placebo responders, the sensorimotor cortex activity captured in electrodes C3, Cz, and C4 indicated that hypoalgesia was positively correlated with resting state peak alpha frequency (PAF). These results suggest that observationally-induced placebo hypoalgesia may be driven by anticipatory mechanisms that modulate frontal attentional processes. Furthermore, resting state PAF could serve as a predictor of observationally-induced hypoalgesia.

PMID: 31874985 [PubMed – in process]

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