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Conscious Cogn. 2008 Dec;17(4):1152-62. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2008.07.002. Epub 2008 Aug 31.

Aesthetic value of paintings affects pain thresholds.

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1
Neurological and Psychiatric Sciences Department, University of Bari, Policlinico, Piazza Giulio Cesare 11, 70124 Bari, Italy. m.detommaso@neurol.uniba.it

Abstract

Pain is modulated by cognitive factors, including attention and emotions. In this study we evaluated the distractive effect of aesthetic appreciation on subjectively rated pain (visual analogue scale;VAS) and multi-channel evoked potentials induced by CO(2) laser stimulation of the left hand in twelve healthy volunteers. Subjects were stimulated by laser in the absence of other external stimulation (baseline condition) and while looking at different paintings they had previously rated as beautiful, neutral or ugly. The view of paintings previously appreciated as beautiful produced lower pain scores and a clear inhibition of the P2 wave amplitude, localized in the anterior cingulate cortex; the inhibition of P2 wave amplitude was lesser or not significant during the presentation of the ugly or neutral paintings, respectively. Dipole source localization analysis of the LEP peaks showed significant changes during different conditions, with a shift from the posterior to the anterior right cingulated cortex while looking at paintings previously rated as beautiful. Our results provide evidence that pain may be modulated at cortical level by the aesthetic content of the distracting stimuli.

PMID:
18762434
DOI:
10.1016/j.concog.2008.07.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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