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Human foot outperforms the hand in mechanical pain discrimination

Ng, KKW, Lafee, O, Bouchatta, O, Makdani, AD, Marshall, AG, Olausson, H, McIntyre, S and Nagi, SS (2024) Human foot outperforms the hand in mechanical pain discrimination. eNeuro.

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Tactile discrimination has been extensively studied, but mechanical pain discrimination remains poorly characterised. Here, we measured the capacity for mechanical pain discrimination using a two-alternative forced choice paradigm, with force-calibrated indentation stimuli (Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments) applied to the hand and foot dorsa of healthy human volunteers. In order to characterise the relationship between peripheral nociceptor activity and pain perception, we recorded single-unit activity from myelinated (A) and unmyelinated (C) mechanosensitive nociceptors in the skin using microneurography. At the perceptual level, we found that the foot was better at discriminating noxious forces than the hand, which stands in contrast to that for innocuous force discrimination, where the hand performed better than the foot. This observation of superior mechanical pain discrimination on the foot compared to the hand could not be explained by the responsiveness of individual nociceptors. We found no significant difference in the discrimination performance of either the myelinated or unmyelinated class of nociceptors between skin regions. This suggests the possibility that other factors such as skin biophysics, receptor density or central mechanisms may underlie these regional differences.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1109 Neurosciences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Society for Neuroscience
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2024 10:48
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2024 15:15
DOI or ID number: 10.1523/eneuro.0412-23.2024
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22507
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