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Papers of the Week

Papers: 12 Nov 2022 - 18 Nov 2022

Human Studies


PLoS One



Relations between short-term memory and the within-subject variability of experimental pain intensity reports: Results from healthy and Fibromyalgia patients.


Canaipa R, Khallouf A, Magalhães A R, Teodoro R, Pão-Mole V, Agostinho M, Pimentel-Santos F, Honigman L, Treister R
PLoS One. 2022; 17(11):e0277402.
PMID: 36383606.


While factors contributing to between-subjects differences in pain have been studied extensively, factors contributing to the within-subjects variability of pain reports are yet unexplored. The aim of this investigation was to assess possible associations between short-term memory and the within-subjects variability of pain reports in healthy and chronic pain patients. Healthy participants were recruited at the University of Haifa, Israel, and Fibromyalgia patients were recruited at a rheumatology department in a central hospital in Lisbon, Portugal. Following consent, both cohorts underwent the same procedures, including the digit-span test, assessing short-term memory, and the FAST procedure, assessing within-subject variability of pain intensity reports in response to experimental pain. One-hundred twenty-one healthy volunteers and 29 Fibromyalgia patients completed the study. While a significant correlation was found between the within-subjects variability and the total score of the short-term memory task (Spearman's r = 0.394, P = 0.046) in the Fibromyalgia group, a marginal correlation emerged in the healthy cohort (r = 0.174, P = 0.056). A possible interpretation of these results is that in the patients' group, at least some of the within-subjects variability of pain intensity reports might be due to error measurement derived by poorer short-term memory, rather than true fluctuations in perception.