Acute pain does not disrupt updating of peripersonal space and body representation

Axel Vitterso, Monika Halicka, Michael Proulx, Mark Wilson, Gavin Buckingham, Janet Bultitude

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


The multisensory representations of our body and its surrounding space are constantly updated as we interact with objects in our environment, for instance during active tool-use. People with chronic pain conditions can present with distorted representations of their body and peripersonal space when compared to pain-free individuals. It has been suggested that disruption to the processes involved in updating these representations could underlie some of these painful conditions. However, it is not known why such updating problems might occur: for example, if they reflect a difference in cognitive processing that pre-date the development of pain, or if they are a consequence of pain. To test the latter, we induced acute pain in healthy individuals using 1% Capsaicin cream and examined its effect on participants’ abilities to update the representation of their body and peripersonal space during tool-use. Updating of the body representation was examined by comparing tactile distance judgements on participant’s arms before and after tool-use. Updating of peripersonal space representation was examined during active tool-use by measuring changes in reaction times and error rates for decisions made about vibro-tactile stimuli presented through the handles of the tools in the presence of visual distractors at the tips of the tools. Acute pain did not alter performance on either task when compared to active placebo cream and a neutral control condition. This suggests that acute pain is not sufficient to account for the distorted representations of the body and its surrounding space observed in people with painful conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2018
Event19th International Multisensory Research Forum - Toronto, Canada
Duration: 14 Jun 201817 Jun 2018


Conference19th International Multisensory Research Forum
Abbreviated titleIMRF


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