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Does experimentally induced pain affect attention? A meta-analytical review

Authors Gong W, Fan L, Luo F

Received 16 August 2018

Accepted for publication 4 January 2019

Published 4 February 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 585—595


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Katherine Hanlon

Wenxiao Gong,1,2 Lu Fan,1,2 Fei Luo1,2

1CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, People’s Republic of China

Background: Recent studies have found that clinical pain is related to cognitive impairment. However, there remains a scarcity of systematic reviews on the influence of acute pain on attention. Laboratory-induced pain is often used to simulate acute pain. The current systematic meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the effect of induced-pain on three components of attention (orienting, alerting, and executive attention) in healthy subjects.
Methods: A systematic search of three databases was performed. Only data from studies that administered laboratory-induced pain and that also included a control group were selected. The effects of experimental pain on orienting attention, alerting attention, and executive attention were analyzed. Two reviewers assessed the studies and extracted relevant data according to the Cochrane Collaboration and Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis Guidelines.
Results: Eight studies were included in the meta-analysis. Orienting attention was marginally interrupted by pain under the invalid cue and marginally facilitated by pain under the valid cue condition. Performance on alerting attention was decreased by pain. Executive attention was not significantly affected by pain.
Conclusion: There was moderate evidence that experimentally induced pain can produce effects on orienting and alerting attention but not on executive attention. This meta-analysis suggests that experimentally induced pain influences some aspects of attention.

Keywords: experimental pain, attention, meta-analysis

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