Don’t Worry, This Will Only Hurt a Bit: The Role of Expectation and Attention in Pain Intensity

The Monist 100 (4):501-513 (2017)
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To cause pain, it is not enough to deliver a dose of noxious stimulation. Pain requires the interaction of sensory processing, emotion, and cognition. In this paper, I focus on the role of cognition in the felt intensity of pain. I provide evidence for the cognitive modulation of pain. In particular, I show that attention and expectation can influence the experience of pain intensity. I also consider the mechanisms that underlie the cognitive effects on pain. I show that all the proposed mechanisms of pain modulation affirm the view that cognition impacts the sensory and discriminative aspects of pain. I conclude that pain perception is a cognitively penetrated phenomenon.

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Nada Gligorov
Albany Medical College


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