BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

Visual distortion of body size modulates pain perception

Mancini, F. and Longo, Matthew R. and Kammers, M.P.M. and Haggard, P. (2011) Visual distortion of body size modulates pain perception. Psychological Science 22 (3), pp. 325-330. ISSN 0956-7976.

Text (Refereed)
4532.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (698kB) | Preview
Official URL:


Pain is a complex subjective experience, that can be shaped by several cognitive, psychological and even contextual variables. For example, simply viewing the body reduces the reported intensity of acute physical pain. We investigated whether this visually induced analgesia can be modulated by the visually depicted size of the stimulated body part. We measured contact heat-pain thresholds, while participants viewed either their own hand or a neutral object, at real size, enlarged, or reduced. Vision of the body was analgesic, increasing heat-pain thresholds by ~ 4°C. Importantly, enlargement of the viewed hand enhanced this analgesia, while looking at a reduced hand decreased it. These results demonstrate that visual distortions of body size modulate sensory components of pain, and reveal a clear functional relation between the perception of pain and the representation of the body.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: 12 month embargo from date of publication
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): somatosensory perception, pain, body representation, multisensory integration, vision, analgesia
School: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Research Centre: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
Depositing User: Matthew Longo
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2012 10:32
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 11:52

Archive Staff Only (login required)

Edit/View Item Edit/View Item