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Attention to pain! A neurocognitive perspective on attentional modulation of pain in neuroimaging studies

Torta, DM and Legrain, V and Mouraux, A and Valentini, E (2017) 'Attention to pain! A neurocognitive perspective on attentional modulation of pain in neuroimaging studies.' Cortex, 89. 120 - 134. ISSN 0010-9452

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Several studies have used neuroimaging techniques to investigate brain correlates of the attentional modulation of pain. Although these studies have advanced the knowledge in the field, important confounding factors such as imprecise theoretical definitions of attention, incomplete operationalization of the construct under exam, and limitations of techniques relying on measuring regional changes in cerebral blood flow have hampered the potential relevance of the conclusions. Here, we first provide an overview of the major theories of attention and of attention in the study of pain to bridge theory and experimental results. We conclude that load and motivational/affective theories are particularly relevant to study the attentional modulation of pain and should be carefully integrated in functional neuroimaging studies. Then, we summarize previous findings and discuss the possible neural correlates of the attentional modulation of pain. We discuss whether classical functional neuroimaging techniques are suitable to measure the effect of a fluctuating process like attention, and in which circumstances functional neuroimaging can be reliably used to measure the attentional modulation of pain. Finally, we argue that the analysis of brain networks and spontaneous oscillations may be a crucial future development in the study of attentional modulation of pain, and why the interplay between attention and pain, as examined so far, may rely on neural mechanisms shared with other sensory modalities.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2017 16:25
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2021 10:16

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