Abstract| Volume 14, ISSUE 4, SUPPLEMENT , S23, April 2013

Preliminary assessment of standardized patterns for the study of memory for pain

      Memory for pain is an important tool in the assessment of the pain experience. It is not uncommon for an individual with persistent pain to be asked to provide a rating that summarizes their previous pain experiences. In doing so, it is assumed that the individual is as accurate in recalling their pain experiences as they are at describing their current pain experiences. Studies have shown, however, that the recall of pain may not be as precise as previously presumed. There are A common approach to the general study of memory is to provide participants with an objective stimulus which is to be recalled or recognized later. In memory for pain research, there is a lack of a standard, objective stimulus. If standard pain stimuli could be developed, there is also the potential to assess the recognition of pain stimuli as well as recall. The purpose of this current study was to create and assess the reliability of a series of brief patterns of experimental noxious stimuli that can be used as standard stimuli in memory for pain studies. A Forgione-Barber device was used to elicit pain. Three different conditions were created where participants were asked to distinguish between: 1) 3 different patterns of stimuli, 2) 5 different patterns of stimuli, and 3) 9 different patterns of stimuli. Thirty undergraduate students participated in this study. Kappa Measures of Agreement determined that the 3-pattern and 5-pattern conditions had the best overall reliability. Additional analyses also showed that the 3-pattern and 5-pattern conditions also showed the highest levels of percent correct compared to the 9-pattern condition. The results of this study supported the hypothesis that this methodology can be used as a reliable means of studying memory for pain. Further, the 5-pattern condition provided the most variability without sacrificing reliability and accuracy.