The ability of cutaneous vibration to compromise detection of a nociceptive stimulus was examined in 2 sets of psychophysical experiments. The noxious stimulus was a 10-millisecond burst of radiant heat from a CO 2 laser; at the near-threshold levels used it generally yielded a mild pricking sensation. In both experiments, the detectability (d e′) of the laser was measured in the presence of different vibratory stimuli and in the absence of vibration. Periods of vibration lasted 10 seconds, bracketing the time of occurrence of the laser. Vibratory and laser stimuli were presented 2.3 cm apart on the dorsal surface of the forearm. Confidence rating procedures yielded receiver operating characteristic curves from which detectability of the laser was calculated. In an amplitude study, vibrations ranging from 10 to 45 dB above threshold were used; results indicated that nociceptive sensitivity gradually declined as vibration amplitude increased. In a frequency study, vibrations ranging from 20 to 230 Hz were used; all interfered with nociception. Combining the results of the 2 studies permitted the conclusion that signals in multiple vibrotactile channels are able to modulate nociception. No one mechanoreceptive channel appears to have a privileged role.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine