Neuroscience Congress - FENS Forum 2012, Barcelona  


Tuesday, July 17, 2012
18:45 - 20:30
SE07 - FENS-IBRO Alumni Symposium - The role of body image and peripersonal space in pain
Chaired by S.J. Sara (Paris, France), M.G. Stewart (Milton Keynes, United Kingdom)

Trojan J. (Mannheim, Germany)
Body perception, peripersonal space, and pain: Clinical findings and conceptual aspects
Diers M. (Mannheim, Germany)
See your pain: site-specific visual feedback reduces pain perception
Valenzuela Moguillansky C. (Paris, France)
Pain and disturbances in body awareness
Torta D.M. (Turin, Italy)
The neural substrates of the crossed hands analgesia

While the idea of specific neurophysiological structures for relaying nociceptive information -at least partially- holds on the peripheral level, it becomes increasingly clear that the quest for a single "pain centre" in the brain is misled. Rather, pain is rooted in integrated, multi-modal representations of our body. This resonates with recent psychological perspectives viewing pain as an embodied sensation, which can only be understood within a broader framework including other sensory and affective aspects of body perception.
The experience of acute and chronic pain is closely related to the way we perceive our body. Most of this evidence stems from clinical observations: Patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome suffer from intense pain in their hand and often perceive them as being larger than they actually are. Back pain patients have problems in delineating the outline of their backs and their body image is distorted in the painful area.
Recent experimental studies have started to shed light on how pain perception is connected to body image and peripersonal space. We will first give an introduction to the field, discuss conceptual and methodological aspects, and give an overview of the clinical evidence on the relationship between body perception and pain. This includes a phenomenological study on how pain is related to bodily experience in chronic pain patients suffering from fibromyalgia. Second, we will report on how several experimental paradigms affecting body representations influence pain perception. In particular, we will demonstrate how the perception of experimental pain stimuli is affected by the visibility of the hurting body area, alterations in the sense of ownership induced via the rubber hand illusion, and conflicting information in visual and proprioceptive reference frames by crossing one’s hands. Finally, we will discuss psychological and neurophysiological mechanisms potentially underlying the interplay between body perception and pain and present perspectives on diagnostics and treatment of chronic pain.

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Neuroscience Congress - FENS Forum 2012, Barcelona