Istituto di Fisiologia Clinica     
Paoletti G., Varanini M., Balocchi R., Palombo C., Santarcangelo E. L. Cardiovascular and respiratory correlates of deep nociceptive stimulation, suggestions for analgesia, pain imagery and cognitive load as a function of hypnotizability. In: Brain Research Bulletin, vol. 82 pp. 65 - 73. Elsevier, 2010.
Hypnotizability is a cognitive trait modulating some physiological responses to cognitive and physical stimulation also in the normal awake state and in the absence of specific suggestions. Aim of the study was the characterization of the cardiovascular correlates of deep pain induced by nociceptive pressor stimulation without (PAIN) and with (AN) suggestions for analgesia, pain imagery/perception (IM) and mental computation (MC) in not hypnotized highly (Highs) and low (Lows) hypnotizable healthy subjects of both genders. The subjective experience of pain intensity, relaxation and task related fatigue were measured through a structured inteview. Heart rate, blood pressure, skin blood flow and respiratory activity were monitored throughout the experimental session. Only Highs perceived lower pain intensity during AN with respect to PAIN and were able to perceive pain during IM. Heart rate decreased during PAIN, increased during MC and did not change during AN and IM in both groups. On the whole, the haemodynamic response consisted of decreased systolic/mean blood pressure and maximum skin blood flow together with increased diastolic blood pressure/minimum skin blood flow in both groups during all conditions. Scarce differences were observed between Highs and Lows (in systolic blood pressure during IM and in respiratory amplitude during PAIN, AN and IM, modulated by gender). The results indicate that in not hypnotized subjects hypnotizability is not associated with relevant differences in the autonomic responses to deep pain, suggestions for analgesia, pain imagery/perception and cognitive load.
Subject Hypnotizability

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