Observation of Nociceptive Processing: Effect of Intra-Epidermal Electric Stimulus Properties on Detection Probability and Evoked Potentials

Boudewijn van den Berg*, Jan R. Buitenweg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Monitoring nociceptive processing is a current challenge due to a lack of objective measures. Recently, we developed a method for simultaneous tracking of psychophysical detection probability and brain evoked potentials in response to intraepidermal stimulation. An exploratory investigation showed that we could quantify nociceptive system behavior by estimating the effect of stimulus properties on the evoked potential (EP). The goal in this work was to accurately measure nociceptive system behavior using this method in a large group of healthy subjects to identify the locations and latencies of EP components and the effect of single- and double-pulse stimuli with an inter-pulse interval of 10 or 40 ms on these EP components and detection probability. First, we observed the effect of filter settings and channel selection on the EP. Subsequently, we compared statistical models to assess correlation of EP and detection probability with stimulus properties, and quantified the effect of stimulus properties on both outcome measures through linear mixed regression. We observed lateral and central EP components in response to intra-epidermal stimulation. Detection probability and central EP components were positively correlated to the amplitude of each pulse, regardless of the inter-pulse interval, and negatively correlated to the trial number. Both central and lateral EP components also showed strong correlation with detection. These results show that both the observed EP and the detection probability reflect the various steps of processing of a nociceptive stimulus, including peripheral nerve fiber recruitment, central synaptic summation, and habituation to a repeated stimulus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-153
Number of pages15
JournalBrain topography
Issue number2
Early online date18 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Intra-epidermal electrical stimulation
  • detection threshold
  • Detection probability
  • Psychophysics
  • Psychometric Curve
  • filter settings
  • Electroencephalogram
  • Evoked potential


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