Investigators : Lieve Filbrich, Valery Legrain.
Adequately responding to a painful stimulus requires knowing where pain is localized on the body, but also where the cause of pain is localized in the external world. This involves for the brain to coordinate the somatotopic representation of the body and the representations of the space around the body. According to a recent theory, the spatial localization of pain depends on a cortical mapping system that integrates nociceptive (localization of the salient and threatening stimulus on the body), proprioceptive (localization of the limbs in external space) and visual information (localization of the cause/source of pain in the external world) into a multimodal and peripersonal representation of the body and the space nearby. The aim of this project is to strengthen this theory by investigating, in patients suffering from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), how pain in one limb affects the representation of the space surrounding the body. More specifically, using behavioral measures (temporal order judgment tasks), we characterize the “neglect-like” deficits of CRPS patients in perceiving the spatial location of visual stimuli occurring close to the body. Findings will help to understand how pain is integrated in a peripersonal representation of the body and the space nearby. They could also have an important impact on the understanding and the rehabilitation of chronic pain.