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The effect of pain on task switching: pain reduces accuracy and increases reaction times across multiple switching paradigms

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journal contribution
posted on 10.06.2016, 08:40 by Nina Attridge, Edmund Keogh, Christopher Eccleston
Pain disrupts attention, which may have negative consequences for daily life for people with acute or chronic pain. It has been suggested that switching between tasks may leave us particularly susceptible to pain-related attentional disruption, because we need to disengage our attention from one task before shifting it onto another. Switching tasks typically elicit lower accuracies and/or longer reaction times when participants switch to a new task compared to repeating the same task, and pain may exacerbate this effect. We present three studies to test this hypothesis. In Study 1, participants completed two versions of an alternating runs switching task under pain free and thermal pain induction conditions. Pain did not affect performance on either task. In Studies 2 and 3, we examined seven versions of the switching task using large general population samples, experiencing a variety of naturally-occurring pain conditions, recruited and tested on the internet. On all tasks, participants with pain had longer reaction times on both switch and repeat trials compared to participants without pain, but pain did not increase switch costs. In Studies 2 and 3, we also investigated the effects of type of pain, duration of pain, and analgesics on task performance. We conclude that pain has a small dampening effect on performance overall on switching tasks. This suggests that pain interrupts attention even when participants are engaged in a trial, not only when attention has been disengaged for shifting to a new task set.

Funding

This work was supported by an unrestricted grant for research from Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare (UK) Limited.

History

School

  • Science

Department

  • Mathematics Education Centre

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PAIN

Citation

ATTRIDGE, N., KEOGH, E. and ECCLESTON, C., 2016. The effect of pain on task switching: pain reduces accuracy and increases reaction times across multiple switching paradigms. Pain, 157 (10), pp. 2179-2193.

Publisher

© International Association for the Study of Pain

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2016-10-01

Notes

This is a non-final version of an article published in final form in: ATTRIDGE, N., KEOGH, E. and ECCLESTON, C., 2016. The effect of pain on task switching: pain reduces accuracy and increases reaction times across multiple switching paradigms. Pain, DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000627/j.pain.0000000000000627

ISSN

0304-3959

eISSN

1872-6623

Language

en

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