Dottore di ricerca

ciclo: XXXV

supervisore: Dr. Valentina Nicolardi
co-supervisore: Prof. SALVATORE MARIA AGLIOTI

Titolo della tesi: Investigating the Influence of Social Factors on Pain Perception: An Experimental Approach

This thesis presents two studies investigating the interplay of social, emotional, and contextual factors on pain perception and processing, using both subjective reports and electroencephalographic (EEG) measures. The first study examines the role of moral, personal, and social valence in influencing pain perception in Chronic Tension Headache (TTH) patients and healthy controls. Findings reveal significant influences of moral and personal valence on pain perception and fairness ratings. TTH patients demonstrated higher pain intensity and reduced Laser Evoked Potential (LEP) amplitudes, highlighting alterations in central pain processing. These findings can inform strategies and interventions in clinical practice and pain management, underscoring the potential for treatments addressing moral and personal valence and social factors. The second study delves into the impact of positive/neutral emotional states and the presence/absence of a romantic partner on experimentally induced pain. Results provide robust evidence that active support from romantic partners significantly mitigates pain perception. The study further shows that both positive emotions and active social support modulate pain perception at the neural and subjective levels. These insights pave the way for incorporating social support and positive emotions in pain management strategies, potentially including partner involvement, touch-based therapies, and the integration of positive stimuli during painful procedures. Collectively, these studies enhance our understanding of the complex dynamics between social, emotional, and contextual factors in pain perception and processing. They contribute to cognitive neuroscience knowledge and suggest translational strategies for improving patient experiences and outcomes in clinical pain management.

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