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Eur J Pain. 2014 Oct;18(9):1298-306. doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2014.490.x. Epub 2014 Mar 25.

Electrodermal responses and memory recall in migraineurs and headache-free controls.

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Unit for the Study and Treatment of Pain - ALGOS, Research Center for Behavior Assessment (CRAMC), Department of Psychology and Institut d'Investigació Sanitària Pere Virgili, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Catalonia, Spain.



Chronic pain patients show increased peripheral activity when exposed to stimuli relevant to their pain problem. It has been suggested that in migraine there is a highly specific conditioning or sensitization to pain stimuli. The aims of this study were to analyse whether migraineurs (1) are sensitive not only to pain-related but also to other negative emotional words; and (2) show a memory bias for pain words, when compared to headache-free controls.


Sixty-six adults participated in the study ( X ̅ = 27 years; SD = 7). They observed 30 words (pain or negative emotional or neutral) in a pseudo-randomized order. Subsequently, participants were asked to recall the words presented during the trial.


Skin conductance responses (SCRs) induced by pain descriptors and emotional words were very similar to each other and significantly larger than those induced by neutral words; however, there were no differences between both groups in SCRs. Significant differences in immediate memory recall were found between the two groups: migraineurs recalled more emotional words than controls.


The findings suggest that in migraine, not only pain-related but also negative emotional words may act as triggers. These outcomes may have therapeutic implications as interventions could target problematic pain-related memories that influence migraine pain perception and pain-related physiological responses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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