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Papers of the Week

Papers: 18 Jan 2020 - 24 Jan 2020

Human Studies

2020 08

Behav Res Methods



Simultaneous tracking of psychophysical detection thresholds and evoked potentials to study nociceptive processing.


van den Berg B, Doll RJ, Mentink ALH, Siebenga PS, Groeneveld GJ, Buitenweg JR
Behav Res Methods. 2020 08; 52(4):1617-1628.
PMID: 31965477.


Measuring altered nociceptive processing involved in chronic pain is difficult due to a lack of objective methods. Potential methods to characterize human nociceptive processing involve measuring neurophysiological activity and psychophysical responses to well-defined stimuli. To reliably measure neurophysiological activity in response to nociceptive stimulation using EEG, synchronized activation of nerve fibers and a large number of stimuli are required. On the other hand, to reliably measure psychophysical detection thresholds, selection of stimulus amplitudes around the detection threshold and many stimulus-response pairs are required. Combining the two techniques helps in quantifying the properties of nociceptive processing related to detected and non-detected stimuli around the detection threshold.The two techniques were combined in an experiment including 20 healthy participants to study the effect of intra-epidermal electrical stimulus properties (i.e. amplitude, single- or double-pulse and trial number) on the detection thresholds and vertex potentials. Generalized mixed regression and linear mixed regression were used to quantify the psychophysical detection probability and neurophysiological EEG responses, respectively.It was shown that the detection probability is significantly modulated by the stimulus amplitude, trial number, and the interaction between stimulus type and amplitude. Furthermore, EEG responses were significantly modulated by stimulus detection and trial number. Hence, we successfully demonstrated the possibility to simultaneously obtain information on psychophysical and neurophysiological properties of nociceptive processing. These results warrant further investigation of the potential of this method to observe altered nociceptive processing.