Poster Session C, Sunday, March 24, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Neural and Behavioral Mechanisms Underlying the Relationship between Everyday Pain and Cognitive Performance
Joanna E. Witkin1, Steven R. Anderson1, Taylor Bolt2, Maria M. Llabre1, Elizabeth A. Reynolds Losin1; 1University of Miami, 2Emory University
While the extant literature examining the relationship between pain and cognition has primarily involved patients with chronic pain and healthy subjects undergoing experimental pain inductions, few studies have examined the relationship between everyday pain complaints and cognitive performance. The relationship between everyday pain (measured via self-reported pain intensity and pain interference in daily activities) and cognitive performance (measured via accuracy on a working memory n-back task) was examined utilizing a structural equation modeling approach. Neuroimaging and behavioral outcomes were accessed from the Human Connectome Project in a large sample of participants (N=416). Task-related brain activation in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC, previously associated with the evaluative aspects of pain) and self-reported negative affect were included as mediators to investigate potential mechanisms underlying the relationship between everyday pain and cognitive performance. Based on recent findings by Bolt and colleagues (2018), we sought to disentangle brain region from network-level influences on the relationship between everyday pain and cognition by specifying a separate structural model containing a latent construct for default mode network (DMN) activity. Our results demonstrated greater everyday pain intensity was associated with worse cognitive performance via increases in both DMN and vmPFC activity. In contrast, greater everyday pain interference was associated with worse cognitive performance via increased self-reported negative affect. These findings demonstrate that the negative correlation between pain and cognition extends to everyday pain complaints in healthy populations. Furthermore, our results suggest distinct contributions of ROI and network-level brain activity on the association between everyday pain and cognitive performance.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions