Visually induced analgesia: Seeing the body reduces pain

Matthew R. Longo, Viviana Betti, Salvatore M. Aglioti, Patrick Haggard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given previous reports of strong interactions between vision and somatic senses, we investigated whether vision of the body modulates pain perception. Participants looked into a mirror aligned with their body midline at either the reflection of their own left hand (creating the illusion that they were looking directly at their own right hand) or the reflection of a neutral object.Weinduced pain using an infrared laser and recorded nociceptive laser-evoked potentials (LEPs). We also collected subjective ratings of pain intensity and unpleasantness. Vision of the body produced clear analgesic effects on both subjective ratings of pain and the N2/P2 complex of LEPs. Similar results were found during direct vision of the hand, without the mirror. Furthermore, these effects were specific to vision of one's own hand and were absent when viewing another person's hand. These results demonstrate a novel analgesic effect of non-informative vision of the body.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12125-12130
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - Sept 30 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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