Simultaneous tracking of psychophysical detection thresholds and evoked potentials to study nociceptive processing

Boudewijn van den Berg*, Robert Doll, Alexander Mentink, Pieter Siebenga, Geert Groeneveld, Jan R. Buitenweg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
85 Downloads (Pure)


Measuring altered nociceptive processing involved in chronic pain is difficult due to a lack of objective methods. Potential methods to characterize human nociceptive processing involve measuring neurophysiological activity and psychophysical responses to well-defined stimuli. To reliably measure neurophysiological activity in response to nociceptive stimulation using EEG, synchronized activation of nerve fibers and a large number of stimuli are required. On the other hand, to reliably measure psychophysical detection thresholds, selection of stimulus amplitudes around the detection threshold and many stimulus– response pairs are required. Combining the two techniques helps in quantifying the properties of nociceptive processing related to detected and non-detected stimuli around the detection threshold. The two techniques were combined in an experiment including 20 healthy participants to study the effect of intra-epidermal electrical stimulus properties (i.e. amplitude, single- or double-pulse and trial number) on the detection thresholds and vertex potentials. Generalized mixed regression and linear mixed regression were used to quantify the psychophysical detection probability and neurophysiological EEG responses, respectively. It was shown that the detection probability is significantly modulated by the stimulus amplitude, trial number, and the interaction between stimulus type and amplitude. Furthermore, EEG responses were significantly modulated by stimulus detection and trial number. Hence, we successfully demonstrated the possibility to simultaneously obtain information on psychophysical and neurophysiological properties of nociceptive processing. These results warrant further investigation of the potential of this method to observe altered nociceptive processing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1617-1628
Number of pages12
JournalBehavior research methods
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • Evoked Potential
  • Nociceptive Processing
  • Linear Mixed Regression
  • Generalized Linear Mixed Regression
  • Psychometric Curve
  • Nociceptive Detection Threshold
  • Threshold Tracking


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