Time-course of attentional bias for pain-related information: the role of pain catastrophizing

  • J. Lee
  • J. Lee


Background: The purpose of this study is to examine the role of pain catastrophizing in gaze patterns of pain face expressions across time. Methods: Total 75 undergraduates were recruited and were assigned into three groups depending on their scores on Korean version of Pain Catastrophizing Scale (K-PCS) and their chronic pain status: high catastrophizing chronic pain group (N = 25), low catastrophizing chronic pain group (N = 25) and healthy control group (N = 25). Participants observed pictures of faces displaying pain, presented simultaneously with neutral faces, while their eye movements were measured using iView XTM Red-IV eye tracking system. Findings: In order to examine participants’ attentional bias toward pain face expressions across time, analyses were performed to compare total gaze durations of pain faces with those of neutral faces in two different time points (0-500ms and 2500-3000ms). Results revealed that high catastrophizing group gazed at pain faces significantly less than neutral faces in 0-500ms (t = -2.696, p<.05), whereas they gazed at pain faces significantly longer in 2500-3000ms (t = 2.645, p<.05). No significant results were found for low catastrophizing group and control group. Discussion: Results suggest that chronic pain individuals, who endorsed high level of pain catastrophizing, exhibit less preference toward pain stimulus at the beginning; however their attentional preference for pain stimulus increased during later stage of their attention. These results have clinical implications as gaze behaviors observed in high catastrophizing group may impair the ability of high catastrophizing individuals to cope with chronic pain effectively.
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