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Hyperalgesia or hypervigilance? An evoked potential approach to the study of fibromyalgia (FM) syndrome

  [ 34 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Lorenz J • • February 20, 1998

Past research on the phenomenon of enhanced pain sensitivity
in fibromyalgia syndrome (FS) revealed evidence for both a
higher pain magnitude in response to nociceptive stimuli
(hyperalgesia) and a general perceptual amplification of
sensations (hypervigilance). In order to distinguish between
these two aspects of disturbed sensory processing in FS,
cerebral evoked potentials after brief painful laser and
auditory stimuli were measured in 10 FS patients. Results were
compared with those from age-matched painfree controls.
Amplitudes of middle-latency (N1) and long-latency (P2) laser
evoked potentials (LEPs) were significantly higher in FS than
in controls. Furthermore, laser intensity at pain but not at
sensation threshold was lower in FS than in controls. However,
auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) did not differ between
groups. Enhanced N1 and P2 amplitudes of LEPs suggest stronger
sensory and attentional processing of nociceptive information
in FS, respectively. The concept of hypervigilance is
challenged by the failure to find differences in auditory
perception among FS and control patients. Yet, the importance
of unpleasant intensities of auditory stimulation, not applied
in this study, to reveal abnormal non- nociceptive perceptual
amplification in FS is discussed.

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