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Somatosens Mot Res. 2002;19(3):207-12.

Sensory lateralization in pain subjective perception for noxious heat stimulus.

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  • 1Departamento de Ciencias Fisiológicas, Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud Universidad de Carabobo, Valencia, Venezuela.


The aim of the present study was to identify and characterize hemispheric lateralization for pain intensity perception. A sample of 351 healthy volunteers was tested by the immersion of the right hand for 10 s followed by the same test for the left hand (RL group; n = 199) or in a random sequence (RND group; n = 152) into a water bath (48 degrees C, 15 s). Pain intensity was self-reported by the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). The motor hemispherical Lateralization Index (LI) was obtained by the Edinburgh Inventory. Gender, hand skin fold, interstimulus time and menstrual cycle data in case of female subjects were recorded. The sample, 60.7% females and 39.3% males, 20.4 +/- 0.18 (mean +/- SEM) years old, showed 92.1% right-handed subjects. Left hand VAS was significantly higher than right hand VAS for RL (7.24 +/- 1.31 vs 6.74 +/- 1.52; p < 0.01) and RND (7.24 +/- 0.82 vs 6.73 +/- 1.25; p < 0.01) both for right- and left-handed subjects. A low but significant correlation for VAS scores and LI was found (r = 0.14; p < 0.05 or r = 0.18; p < 0.05, for left or right hand, respectively). Skin fold was statistically similar in both hands (p > 0.05) being highly correlated with each other (r = 0.68; p < 0.05). Pain subjective perception was not correlated to interstimulus time (r = -0.01; p > 0.05). Females showed significantly higher values than males for both left and right hand VAS scores. Periovulatory phase VAS value was significantly higher than luteal phase VAS only for the right hand test (7.57 +/- 0.20 vs 6.47 +/- 0.33; p < 0.01). The results of the present study suggest a lateralization of pain intensity perception to the right hemisphere not correlated with the motor hemispheric lateralization.

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