Posted in Ukategorisert by Ulrikke Pedersen on november 25, 2010


Posted in Ukategorisert by Ulrikke Pedersen on november 24, 2010

Virtual Reality Pain Distraction

Psychological factors can influence the perception of pain (Melzack, 1998). For example, pain can be exacerbated by anxiety and expectations (Turk, Meichenbaum, & Genest, 1983). In contrast, pain may be reduced by interventions that address psychological factors: e.g., traditional distraction can be an effective adjunctive treatment for pain (Fernandez & Turk, 1989; McCaul & Mallott, 1984). To help reach their goal of maximizing the potential for distraction to reduce pain, researchers have begun recently to explore whether allowing patients to escape mentally into an immersive virtual world can help reduce their pain experience.

To explain these nonpharmacologic analgesic effects, investigators propose that the illusion of going into the virtual world draws the patient’s attention into that perceptual framework. VR is interactive and multisensory (e.g., patients aim and shoot a snowball, hear a splash sound and simultaneously see a snowball splash into the icy virtual river). These qualities help make VR unusually attention-grabbing, leaving less attention available to process incoming pain signals (Hoffman, Doctor, et al., 2000; Hoffman, Patterson, & Carrougher, 2000). Conscious attention is required for the experience of pain

What Is Distraction, and How Does It Work?

Distraction means turning your attention to something other than the pain. Many people use this method without realizing it when they watch television or listen to the radio to “take their minds off” the pain. Distraction may work better than medicine if pain is sudden and intense or if it is brief, lasting only 5 to 45 minutes. Distraction is useful when you are waiting for pain medicine to start working. If pain is mild, you may be able to distract yourself for hours. Some people think that a person who can be distracted from pain does not have severe pain. This is not necessarily true. Distraction can be a powerful way of temporarily relieving even the most intense pain.

Diminishing Pain by Distraction

Painkillers can be effective because they block pain signals from getting to the brain. But distracting the brain from pain is an alternative method for intervening with it,

Dr. ZELTZER: Positive mood, comfort actually changes the activity in the nerve connections and the chemical environment that bathes the brain in very powerful ways to actually turn off pain perception.

Dr. ZELTZER: I sort of liken it to having a busy signal. If your cognitive brain is involved in something else, it’s almost as if there’s no room for the pain signals to get up there. So it’s a very simplistic way of describing it, but in a sense, that’s how it works.

Looking at beautiful art can act as a painkiller

Looking at a beautiful piece of art has long been said to have the power to heal emotional wounds but the new research also claims it offers a distraction from physical pain.

The subjects rated the pain as being a third less intense while they were viewing the beautiful paintings, compared with when contemplating the ugly paintings or the blank panel.

Electrodes measuring the brain’s electrical activity also confirmed a reduced response to the pain when the subject looked at beautiful paintings.

Aesthetic value of paintings affects pain thresholds

Pain is modulated by cognitive factors, including attention and emotions. In this study we evaluated the distractive effect of aesthetic appreciation on subjectively rated pain. The view of paintings previously appreciated as beautiful produced lower pain scores and a clear inhibition of the P2 wave amplitude, localized in the anterior cingulate cortex; Our results provide evidence that pain may be modulated at cortical level by the aesthetic content of the distracting stimuli.

Effects of Art in Lowering Pain Levels

•             The subjects rated the pain as being 1/3 less intense while viewing the ‘beautiful’ paintings compared with the pain levels experienced while viewing paintings they considered ugly or the blank panel.

•             Brain wave activity showed a reduced response to the pain when

•             The subject looked at positive or beautiful paintings, such as Starry Night by Van Gogh and The Birth of Venus by Botticelli.  Artwork considered ugly or plain  included art by Pablo Picasso, Fernando Botero and Antonio Bueno.  Remember, the subjects selected the art they considered beautiful, ugly or uncomely at the beginning of the study.

•             Dr. Tommaso states, “Beauty obviously offers a distraction that ugly things do not. But at least there is no suggestion that ugly surroundings make the pain worse.” By viewing aesthetically pleasing artwork, pain levels may be reduced or changed at the cortical level in the brain.

•             *Brain scans showed “a clear inhibition of the P2 wave amplitude, localised in the anterior cingulate cortex”.  (The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) plays a role in regulating blood pressure and heart rate, cognitive functions such as anticipating reward, decision-making, empathy and emotion).

Denis Dutton: A Darwinian theory of beauty

Beauty is nature’s way of acting at a distance.

Evolution’s trick is to make them beautiful – to have them exert on you a kind of mangetism. To give you pleasure simply by looking at them.

We find beauty in something done well. Don’t be so sure it’s just your culture telling you that sparkling jewel is beautiful. Your distant sncestors loved that shape and found beauty in the skill needed to make it.

Can Music Really Make You Feel Better?

the key is to find a melody that has a slow steady beat (ideally at or under sixty beats per minute, which is just below the resting rate of the human heart) that will help you relax and let the pain medication do its work more effectively.

Once you have found the right melody(s) sit back and focus on the melody for at least fifteen minutes. If you can do this, it can have the effect of lowering your heart rate and breathing rate thereby releasing the tension that comes with (or in some cases even causes) the pain.

The Effects of Music on Pain Perception

slow music relaxes a person by slowing their breathing and heartbeat (Roberts, 2002).

Music with a slow, steady tempo can be used to cue slower breathing and trigger a relaxation response (Gfeller, 2003). This training is called the entrainment principal. According to Bradt (2002) this principal involves bodies that are vibrating in slightly different ways that eventually catch up with each other to vibrate simultaneously. Bradt (2002) states music therapists entrain a client’s heart rate (or respiration) by first matching the music to the heartbeat, then slightly altering the music tempo so that the heart rate follows the beat of the music. The type of music used can entrain the body to respond in different ways. Sedative music can alleviate anxiety and stress levels resulting in less use of pain medication, shorter recovery periods, and higher patient satisfaction, while stimulative music can be physically and psychologically motivating, which is beneficial during rehabilitation(Music, n.d.).

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science”

Albert Einstein

Processing Fluency and Aesthetic Pleasure: Is Beauty in the Perceiver’s Processing Experience?

In our analyses we follow this philosophical tradition and define beauty as a pleasurable subjective experience that is directed toward an object and not mediated by intervening reasoning. This definition closely resembles the definition of aesthetic experience used in empirical aesthetics

Consistent with these ideas, a common view in aesthetics holds that highest beauty is attained by “uniformity in variety,” or “simplicity in complexity,” as when a complex theme is presented in an accessible way (see Dickie, 1997).

Our core proposal is straightforward. We suggest that aesthetic experience is a function of the perceiver’s processing dynamics: The more fluently the perceiver can process an object, the more positive is his or her aesthetic response.

Amount of Information

The idea that the amount of information is an important determinant of beauty has a long history in aesthetics.

Important for our proposal, stimuli with less information are not only more pleasing, but also easier to process.


This finding is consistent with people’s preference for symmetric shapes, because they contain less information than asymmetric, but otherwise identical shapes.

Moreover, symmetric patterns are preferred even if they do not serve any biologically relevant function, both in humans (e.g., Humphrey, 1997; R. Reber&Schwarz, in press) and in animals (Rensch, 1957, 1958). These observations are often explained by postulating an innate preference for symmetry (e.g., Etcoff, 1999; Pinker, 1997). Given that symmetry is indicative of mate value in several species (e.g., Thornhill & Gangstead, 1993, 1999), this is a plausible hypothesis,


Studies show that recognition speed, a standard measure of fluency, is faster for stimuli high in figure–ground contrast (e.g., Checkosky & Whitlock, 1973).

Specifically, high fluency may elicit positive affect because it is associated with progress toward successful recognition of the stimulus, error-free processing, or the availability of appropriate knowledge structures to interpret the stimulus. High fluency may also feel good because it signals that an external stimulus is familiar, and thus unlikely to be harmful

A similar logic may explain why stimulus complexity is often related to preference by an inverted Ushaped function (e.g., Berlyne, 1971; Vitz, 1966).With low levels of complexity, the source of fluency is very salient. As complexity increases, the salience of the source of perceptual fluency decreases, enhancing the misattribution of fluency to beauty. However, further increases in complexity will eventually reduce processing fluency, leading to a decrease in perceived beauty. These mechanisms would combine to form a U-shaped relation between complexity and beauty, as predicted and found by Berlyne (1971).


The unifying and esthetically pleasurable effect of repetition has a double basis. It is in part physiological, and is due to the fact that the perception of like or repeated elements involves little muscular effort, whereas the perception of unlike elements necessitates a constant movement and adjustment of the eye. Psychologically, repetition is associated in the mind with the ideas of succession, order and regularity, and hence with the sense of repose and quiet well-being which always results from order and regularity in the affairs of life.


Posted in Ukategorisert by Ulrikke Pedersen on november 24, 2010


Posted in Ukategorisert by Ulrikke Pedersen on november 15, 2010