Trial record 2 of 32 for:    atlas pain

Neural and Psychological Mechanisms of Pain Perception

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Know the risks and potential benefits of clinical studies and talk to your health care provider before participating. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT02446262
Recruitment Status : Recruiting
First Posted : May 18, 2015
Last Update Posted : October 30, 2018
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) ( National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) )

Brief Summary:


- Painful stimuli cause changes in a network of brain regions called the Pain Matrix. But most of these regions respond to many other stimuli, not just pain. Researchers want to understand how different factors influence pain. They want to test what happens when people expect different levels of pain and receive treatments that can modify pain. They want to see if these factors influence decisions about pain and how the body responds to it. They also want to compare pain with responses like taste and vision.


- To better understand how pain and emotions are processed and influenced by psychological factors.


- Healthy volunteers ages 18 50.


  • This study requires 1 to 2 clinic visits that last 1 to 3 hours.
  • Participants will be screened with medical history and physical exam.
  • Some participants will have one or more magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of their brain. For MRI, participants will lie on a table that slides in and out of a cylinder. The scanner makes loud knocking noises. They will get earplugs.
  • Participants heart activity will be recorded with electrocardiogram. Their pulse, sweating, and breathing will be monitored.
  • Some participants will take a taste test. Others may perform simple tasks. Others may receive pain in their arm, leg, or hand. The pain will come from heat or electric shocks. Others may judge pain using a topical pain-relieving cream. Some of these tests may be given during MRI.
  • Participants will fill out questionnaires.
  • The study will last 3 years.

Condition or disease
Affective Neuroscience Pain Visual Analogue Pain Scale Placebo Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

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Detailed Description:


Pain is one of the most important signals for an organism s survival. The pathways that transfer noxious input from the periphery to the central nervous system are highly conserved across human and animal models. In humans, the ultimate experience of pain is also highly influenced by psychological factors. For example, the placebo effect leads to robust pain relief and can influence responses to noxious stimuli in the human brain. However, the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms by which psychological factors influence pain remain largely unknown.

Pain can be modulated by explicit beliefs about treatments, prior experience and learning, interpersonal processes that support the patient-provider relationship, and contextual factors related to the treatment environment. In the proposed series of experiments, we will systematically investigate the neural and psychological mechanisms that mediate the effects of these factors on acute pain. We will focus on expectations, attention, emotion, conditioning/associative learning, and social factors. These experiments will principally use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and psychophysiological measurements, as well as behavioral assays and self-reports. We will examine the effects of different types of pain-related expectations on decisions about pain as well as responses in the brain and periphery. We will also compare acute pain with other hedonic and perceptual processes. This will allow us to distinguish processes that are unique to pain perception from those that are not specific to pain, such as processes involved in perception and decision-making across domains.

Together, the proposed series of experiments aim to elucidate the psychological, neurobiological, and physiological mechanisms that modulate pain. This, in turn, can identify targets for pain treatment and inform mechanistic studies of altered pain processing in clinical populations.

Study Population:

We plan to recruit 280 healthy volunteers between age 18 and 50.


The aim of the proposed series of experiments is to understand how expectations, attention, and emotion influence acute pain. We will manipulate expectations about noxious stimuli using associative learning and verbal instructions, in both within-subjects and between-groups designs. We will measure decisions about pain experience (self-report) as well as neural and physiological responses to noxious stimuli that cause pain. We will combine computational modeling with advanced neuroimaging analyses to isolate the neural and psychological mechanisms that mediate the effects of expectations, attention, and emotion on subjective pain. To determine the specificity of these mechanisms, we will compare acute pain modalities (e.g., thermal pain versus shock-induced pain), and we will contrast pain with other hedonic and perceptual domains (e.g., taste).

Outcome measures:

Dependent variables for all experiments will include decisions about pain and/or other percepts (e.g., sweetness of a taste) measured with visual analogue scales, reaction time, physiological responses (e.g., skin conductance, pupil dilation), and/or BOLD activation in regions of interest. We are specifically interested in processes within the network of regions known to be involved in pain processing (pain-processing network, PPN), as well as responses in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), ventral striatum (VS), and amygdala. We hypothesize that nociceptive stimuli and pain ratings will be associated with unique patterns of activation within the PPN, whereas responses in regions associated with value, executive function, and decision-making will be common across outcomes.

Study Type : Observational
Estimated Enrollment : 400 participants
Observational Model: Other
Time Perspective: Prospective
Official Title: Neural and Psychological Mechanisms of Pain Perception
Study Start Date : May 14, 2015
Estimated Primary Completion Date : December 3, 2018
Estimated Study Completion Date : December 3, 2018

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Pain perception (pain ratings) [ Time Frame: 2 years ]

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. State-trait anxiety index, Fear of Pain questionnaire, Intolerance of Uncertainty questionnaire, McGill Pain Questionnaire) [ Time Frame: 2 years ]

Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 50 Years   (Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes
  • Healthy
  • Between 18 and 50 years old
  • Fluent in English
  • Able to provide written informed consent.


  • Unable to comply with study procedures or follow-up visits.
  • Has a major medical condition or medical history that in a clinician's assessment could affect heat sensitivity, pain thresholds, or ability to comply with study procedures. This may include cardiovascular, autonomic, neurological or psychiatric conditions (including stroke and blindness or deafness, a history of brain damage, substance or alcohol dependence or abuse or psychosis) or a chronic systemic disease (e.g., diabetes).
  • Has a medical condition that in a clinician's assessment might affect somatosensation (e.g., Raynaud s disease, peripheral neuropathy, or circulatory disorder).
  • Has a current chronic pain condition or has had chronic pain in the past (painful condition lasting more than six months).
  • Has a dermatological condition such as scars or burns, or has had a tattoo in the testing region within the previous 4 weeks that might influence cutaneous sensibility.
  • Regular use of prescription medication that has a significant effect on pain or heat perception. Excluded medications include central-acting agents such as opiates (morphine, tramadol), antidepressants (amitriptyline, duloxetine, milnacipran), anticonvulsants (gabapentin, pregabalin), anxiolytics (barbituates, benzodiazepines), hypnotics (zolpidem, sodium oxybate), antipsychotics (valproate, lithium, olanzapine), antimigraine agents (sumatriptan, ergotamine), and muscle relaxants (cyclobenzaprine, carisoprodol). Use of analgesic medications, such as non-steroidal anti-nflammatories, salicylates, and acetaminophen, taken on an "as needed" basis is acceptable as long as the last dose taken was within 5 half-lives of testing.
  • Used recreational drugs within the past month.
  • Is pregnant.
  • NCCIH employees.


  • Individuals with conditions that could pose a risk relating to the safety of the fMRI procedure or pain stimulation will be excluded from the MRI portion of the protocol, but may participate in the non-fMRI sessions (with the exception of pregnant women). Such conditions include:

    • Those with ferromagnetic metal in the cranial cavity or eye, e.g. aneurysm clip, implanted neural stimulator, cochlear implant, ocular foreign body.
    • Those with an abnormality on a structural MRI.
    • Those with an implanted cardiac pacemaker or auto-defibrillator.
    • Those with an insulin pump.
    • Those with an irremovable body piercing.
    • Pregnant women (based on urine test completed within 24 hours prior to scan).
  • Individuals who are left-handed (based on self-report or score on handedness questionnaire) will be excluded from fMRI substudies.

EXCLUSION CRITERIA (placebo analgesia sub-studies):

-Participation in an NIH study of analgesia, as gleaned from CRIS

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT02446262

Contact: Adebisi O Ayodele, C.R.N.P. (301) 827-0415
Contact: Lauren Y Atlas, Ph.D. (301) 827-0214

United States, Maryland
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike Recruiting
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Contact: For more information at the NIH Clinical Center contact Office of Patient Recruitment (OPR)    800-411-1222 ext TTY8664111010   
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
Principal Investigator: Lauren Y Atlas, Ph.D. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

Additional Information:
Responsible Party: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) Identifier: NCT02446262     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 150132
First Posted: May 18, 2015    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: October 30, 2018
Last Verified: October 26, 2018

Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) ( National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) ):
Visual Analogue Pain Scale
Affective Neuroscience
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)