Effect of local versus remote tonic heat pain during training on acquisition and retention of a finger-tapping sequence task
SourceExperimental Brain Research, 234, 2, (2016), pp. 475-482
Article / Letter to editor
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Experimental Brain Research
SubjectRadboudumc 3: Disorders of movement DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
Although pain is present in a large proportion of patients receiving rehabilitation, its impact on motor learning is still unclear, especially in the case of neuropathic pain that is not tightly linked to specific movements. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of local and remote tonic cutaneous heat pain applied during training on motor learning of a finger-tapping sequence task. Forty-five healthy participants, randomized to the control, local pain or remote pain groups, were trained to perform an explicit finger motor sequence of five items as fast as possible. During the 10 training blocks (30 s each), local pain and remote pain groups received a heat pain stimulus on the wrist or leg, respectively. Performance was tested in the absence of pain in all groups before (baseline), immediately after (post-immediate), 60 min after (post-60 min) and 24 h after training (post-24 h) to assess both acquisition and next-day retention. Speed increased over time from baseline to post-24 h (p < 0.001), without any significant effect of group (p = 0.804) or time x group interaction (p = 0.385), indicating that the acquisition and retention were not affected by the presence of pain during training. No changes were observed on error rates, which were very low even at baseline. These results with experimental heat pain suggest that the ability to relearn finger sequence should not be affected by concomitant neuropathic pain in neurorehabilitation. However, these results need to be validated in the context of chronic pain, by including pain as a co-variable in motor rehabilitation trials.
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