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Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol. 1993 Jul-Aug;88(4):290-301.

Identification of pain, intensity and P300 components in the pain evoked potential.

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University of California, San Francisco.


This study examined the relationships among 3 components of the somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) to painful stimuli. Painful stimuli were produced using intracutaneous electrical stimulation of a fingertip and two levels of non-painful stimuli were produced by superficial electrical stimulation of a neighboring fingertip. SEPs were recorded from Cz-A1 and Pz-A1, and difference waves were computed for 3 components: (1) a pain component (the difference between SEPs to painful vs. strong but non-painful stimuli); (2) an intensity component that is not related to pain (the difference between SEPs to strong non-painful vs. mild non-painful stimuli); and (3) a P300 component (the difference between SEPs to the same stimuli under Target instructions vs. Standard instructions). The positive peaks in the 3 types of difference waves differed in both latency and topography, although with latency and topography overlap. The intensity component had an earlier positive peak than the pain component, and the pain component had an earlier positive peak than the P300 component. The pain and intensity components were larger at Cz than Pz, whereas the P300 component was larger at Pz than Cz. Under certain conditions, the pain evoked SEP consists of a weighted combination of the 3 components, complicating interpretation of the positive peaks in the recorded wave forms.

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