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Modulation of Noxious Stimuli: Mechanisms Underlying the Human Experience of Pain

Wright, Jessica L. (2017) Modulation of Noxious Stimuli: Mechanisms Underlying the Human Experience of Pain. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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The aim of the current study was to explore the effects of sympathetic arousal on a healthy individual’s experience of pain, and how the presence of central sensitization, experimentally induced using electrical conditioning of the forearm, effects this interaction. It was hypothesized that following electrical conditioning, sympathetic arousal would lead to higher subjective ratings of pain and heightened nociceptive reflexes. Furthermore, it was expected this effect would be more pronounced in participants classified as high in pain catastrophizing. To test these hypotheses, the study used a repeated-measures design, comparing ratings of pain and blink reflex data to a nociceptive stimulus at baseline and post-conditioning. On a number of trials, the nociceptive stimulus was presented with concurrent acoustic stimulation, intended to evoke arousal. Results did not support the hypotheses, as electrical conditioning did not lead to an increase in pain or nociceptive reflexes during heightened states of arousal. Catastrophizing was also found not to have a significant result on the outcome. Alternative explanations, and the implications of these findings are discussed, along with suggestions for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology and Exercise Science
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Supervisor(s): Drummond, Peter and Vo, Lechi
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