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01.12.2014 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2014 Open Access

The Journal of Headache and Pain 1/2014

Effect of negative emotions evoked by light, noise and taste on trigeminal thermal sensitivity

The Journal of Headache and Pain > Ausgabe 1/2014
Guangju Yang, Lene Baad-Hansen, Kelun Wang, Qiu-Fei Xie, Peter Svensson
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1129-2377-15-71) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

YG recruited the participants, carried out the study, performed the statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript. SP and BHL participated in the design of the study, statistical analysis, and revision of the draft. XQ and WK helped to draft and revise the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Patients with migraine often have impaired somatosensory function and experience headache attacks triggered by exogenous stimulus, such as light, sound or taste. This study aimed to assess the influence of three controlled conditioning stimuli (visual, auditory and gustatory stimuli and combined stimuli) on affective state and thermal sensitivity in healthy human participants.


All participants attended four experimental sessions with visual, auditory and gustatory conditioning stimuli and combination of all stimuli, in a randomized sequence. In each session, the somatosensory sensitivity was tested in the perioral region with use of thermal stimuli with and without the conditioning stimuli. Positive and Negative Affect States (PANAS) were assessed before and after the tests. Subject based ratings of the conditioning and test stimuli in addition to skin temperature and heart rate as indicators of arousal responses were collected in real time during the tests.


The three conditioning stimuli all induced significant increases in negative PANAS scores (paired t-test, P ≤0.016). Compared with baseline, the increases were in a near dose-dependent manner during visual and auditory conditioning stimulation. No significant effects of any single conditioning stimuli were observed on trigeminal thermal sensitivity (P ≥0.051) or arousal parameters (P ≥0.057). The effects of combined conditioning stimuli on subjective ratings (P ≤0.038) and negative affect (P = 0.011) were stronger than those of single stimuli.


All three conditioning stimuli provided a simple way to evoke a negative affective state without physical arousal or influence on trigeminal thermal sensitivity. Multisensory conditioning had stronger effects but also failed to modulate thermal sensitivity, suggesting that so-called exogenous trigger stimuli e.g. bright light, noise, unpleasant taste in patients with migraine may require a predisposed or sensitized nervous system.
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