Centre for Pain Research

Attentional processes in pain perception

Pain is known to have an important relationship with attentional processes. Pain is attention grabbing, in that it draws attention to it, and as a consequence can have a disruptive effect on task performance. It is believed that those in pain may be more vigilant to cues associated with pain, which may be exaggerated in those with a heightened fear of pain sensations. Also, attention manipulation (e.g., distraction) may also effect pain perception and experiences.

Attention is not a unitary construct, and we are currently engaged in a large programme of research that is seeking to identify the aspects of attention that are most effected by pain, as well as consider the conditions under which such disruption is most likely to occur. We typically focus on attentional interference within experimental pain and everyday pain settings, where we are developing an attentional test battery for pain interference. We are interested in establishing new analgesic endpoints based on this work, with a return to normal attentional functioning being one possible outcome.

Research projects

Recent presentations