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Psychol Sci. 2015 Apr;26(4):385-92. doi: 10.1177/0956797614563339. Epub 2015 Feb 17.

Bogus visual feedback alters onset of movement-evoked pain in people with neck pain.

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Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia.
School of Information Technology and Mathematical Science, University of South Australia.
Research Group on Health Psychology, University of Leuven.
Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia


Pain is a protective perceptual response shaped by contextual, psychological, and sensory inputs that suggest danger to the body. Sensory cues suggesting that a body part is moving toward a painful position may credibly signal the threat and thereby modulate pain. In this experiment, we used virtual reality to investigate whether manipulating visual proprioceptive cues could alter movement-evoked pain in 24 people with neck pain. We hypothesized that pain would occur at a lesser degree of head rotation when visual feedback overstated true rotation and at a greater degree of rotation when visual feedback understated true rotation. Our hypothesis was clearly supported: When vision overstated the amount of rotation, pain occurred at 7% less rotation than under conditions of accurate visual feedback, and when vision understated rotation, pain occurred at 6% greater rotation than under conditions of accurate visual feedback. We concluded that visual-proprioceptive information modulated the threshold for movement-evoked pain, which suggests that stimuli that become associated with pain can themselves trigger pain.


body representation; illusions; movement; multisensory processing; open data; pain; perception; redirected walking; virtual reality

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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