Effects of inhibitory control training on pain sensitivity

  • J. Veldhuijzen


Background: Poor cognitive inhibitory control has been related to increased pain sensitivity and a reduction in endogenous pain modulation. A few studies have also shown that inhibitory control (IC) can also be improved with cognitive IC training. The potential of IC training on improving pain sensitivity levels has never been studied before. This study evaluated the effects of IC training on pain sensitivity. Methods: In total 60 participants were random divided into two conditions: the Stop-signal task training group (N=30), which served as an IC training, and a control reaction time training group (N=30). Pain sensitivity and pain tolerance were measured with the Cold Pressure Task before and after the training. Mixed repeated measures ANOVA was used to determine the effect of the training on pain sensitivity scores. Results: Both the training group and the control group improved in inhibitory control proficiency, as indicated by decreased stop signal reaction times (SSRT; F(1,53)=7.376, p<.05). This was however not significantly dependent on the type of training. Furthermore, no effects were found of training on pain sensitivity. Discussion: No evidence was found to support the hypothesis that inhibitory control can be trained specifically. Also, training effects did not affect pain sensitivity scores. Further research is required to study the relation between IC and pain.