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Papers of the Week

Papers: 5 Jun 2021 - 11 Jun 2021


Human Studies

2021 Apr 21


Association between attentional bias to experimentally induced pain and to pain-related words in healthy individuals: the moderating role of interpretation bias.


Attentional bias to pain-related information may contribute to chronic pain maintenance. It is theoretically predicted that attentional bias to pain-related language derives from attentional bias to painful sensations; however, the complex interconnection between these types of attentional bias has not yet been tested. This study aimed to investigate the association between attentional bias to pain words and attentional bias to the location of pain, as well as the moderating role of pain-related interpretation bias in this association. Fifty-four healthy individuals performed a visual probe task with pain-related and neutral words, during which eye movements were tracked. In a subset of trials, participants were presented with a cold pain stimulus on one hand. Pain-related interpretation and memory biases were also assessed. Attentional bias to pain words and attentional bias to the pain location were not significantly correlated, although the association was significantly moderated by interpretation bias. A combination of pain-related interpretation bias and attentional bias to painful sensations was associated with avoidance of pain words. In addition, first fixation durations on pain words were longer when the pain word and cold pain stimulus were presented on the same side of the body, as compared to on opposite sides. This indicates that congruency between the locations of pain and pain-related information may strengthen attentional bias. Overall, these findings indicate that cognitive biases to pain-related information interact with cognitive biases to somatosensory information. The implications of these findings for attentional bias modification interventions are discussed.