Poster Session C, Sunday, March 24, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Acute Pain Disrupts Sustained Attention
Gene Brewer1, Mattew Robison1, Derek Ellis1, Chris Blais1, Paul Karoly1; 1Arizona State University
The current study evaluated the effect of acute pain on sustained attention during completion of a psychomotor vigilance task. In Experiment 1 we fit Ex-Gaussian distributions to each participants’ response times and found that acute pain selectively influences the relative frequency of slow responses (i.e., increases in tau). In Experiment 2 we localized the deleterious effect of acute pain using thought probes that were randomly interspersed throughout the vigilance task (i.e., increases in task-unrelated thoughts about pain). In Experiment 3 we used pupillometry to test specific hypotheses regarding fluctuations in arousal caused by acute pain that was predicted by theories regarding the role of the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine (LC-NE) system in sustained attention (i.e., increases in baseline pupil size and decreases in task-evoked pupillary response). Taken together, the results from these studies underscore a role of the LC-NE system in modulating sustained attention and suggests that acute pain interferes with its proper functioning.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Goal maintenance & switching