Send to

Choose Destination
Pain. 2012 Jun;153(6):1180-6. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2012.01.025. Epub 2012 Mar 10.

Nonpain goal pursuit inhibits attentional bias to pain.

Author information

Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Although dealing with pain is a vital goal to pursue, most individuals are also engaged in the pursuit of other goals. The aim of the present experiment was to investigate whether attentional bias to pain signals is inhibited when one is pursuing a concurrent salient but nonpain task goal. Attentional bias to pain signals was measured in pain-free volunteers (n=63) using a spatial cueing task with pain cues and neutral cues. The pursuit of a concurrent goal was manipulated by including additional trials in which a digit appeared at the middle of the screen. Half of the participants (goal group) were instructed to name these additional stimuli aloud. In order to increase the affective-motivational value of this non-pain-related goal, monetary reward and punishment were made contingent upon the performance of this task. Participants of the control group did not perform the additional task. As predicted, the results show attentional bias to pain signals in the control group, but not in the goal group. This indicates that attentional bias to signals of impending pain is inhibited when one is engaged in the pursuit of another salient but nonpain goal. The results of this study underscore a motivational view on attention to pain, in which the pursuit of multiple goals, including nonpain goals, is taken into account.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wolters Kluwer
Loading ...
Support Center