The Effect of Electrical Stimulation–Induced Pain on Time Perception and Relationships to Pain-Related Emotional and Cognitive Factors: A Temporal Bisection Task and Questionnaire–Based Study

Frontiers in Psychology 12 (2022)
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Pain has not only sensory, but also emotional and cognitive, components. Some studies have explored the effect of pain on time perception, but the results remain controversial. Whether individual pain-related emotional and cognitive factors play roles in this process should also be explored. In this study, we investigated the effect of electrical stimulation–induced pain on interval timing using a temporal bisection task. During each task session, subjects received one of five types of stimulation randomly: no stimulus and 100 and 300 ms of non-painful and painful stimulation. Pain-related emotional and cognitive factors were measured using a series of questionnaires. The proportion of “long” judgments of a 1,200-ms visual stimulus duration was significantly smaller with 300 ms painful stimulation than with no stimulus and 100 ms and 300 ms non-painful stimulation. The point of subjective equality did not differ among sessions, but the average Weber fraction was higher for painful sessions than for no-stimulus session. The pain fear score correlated positively with the PSE under 100 ms non-painful and painful and 300 ms painful stimulation. Pain catastrophizing and pain anxiety scores correlated significantly with the WF under no stimulus and 100 ms non-painful stimulation, respectively. These results suggest that electrical stimulation–induced pain affects temporal sensitivity, and that pain-related emotional and cognitive factors are associated with the processing of time perception.



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