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Moving in an environment of induced sensorimotor
PLoS One (2014)
  • Benedict Wand, The University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Lareina Szpak, Floreat Physiotherapy
  • Pamela George, The University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Max Bulsara, The University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Neil E O'Connell, Brunel University
  • G Lorimer Moseley, University of South Australia
Objectives: It has been proposed that in the same way that conflict between vestibular and visual inputs leads to motion
sickness, conflict between motor commands and sensory information associated with these commands may contribute to
some chronic pain states. Attempts to test this hypothesis by artificially inducing a state of sensorimotor incongruence and
assessing self-reported pain have yielded equivocal results. To help clarify the effect sensorimotor incongruence has on pain
we investigated the effect of moving in an environment of induced incongruence on pressure pain thresholds (PPT) and the
pain experienced immediately on completion of PPT testing.
Methods: Thirty-five healthy subjects performed synchronous and asynchronous upper-limb movements with and without
mirror visual feedback in random order. We measured PPT over the elbow and the pain evoked by testing. Generalised
linear mixed-models were performed for each outcome. Condition (four levels) and baseline values for each outcome were
within-subject factors.
Results: There was no effect of condition on PPT (p = 0.887) or pressure-evoked pain (p = 0.771). A sensitivity analysis using
only the first PPT measure after each condition confirmed the result (p = 0.867).
Discussion: Inducing a state of movement related sensorimotor incongruence in the upper-limb of healthy volunteers does
not influence PPT, nor the pain evoked by testing. We found no evidence that sensorimotor incongruence upregulates the
nociceptive system in healthy volunteers.
Publication Date
Citation Information
Wand, B., Szpak, L., George, P., Bulsara, M., O'Connell, N., and Moseley, G. (2014). Moving in an environment of induced sensorimotor incongruence does not influence pain sensitivity in healthy volunteers: a randomised within-subject experiment. PLoS One, 9(4), Online. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093701