High incidence of 'synaesthesia for pain' in amputees

Bernadette M. Fitzgibbon*, Peter G. Enticott, Anina N. Rich, Melita J. Giummarra, Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis, Jack W. Tsao, Sharon R. Weeks, John L. Bradshaw

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Synaesthesia for pain is a phenomenon where a person experiences pain when observing or imagining another in pain. Anecdotal reports of this type of experience have most commonly occurred in individuals who have lost a limb. Distinct from phantom pain, synaesthesia for pain is triggered specifically in response to pain in another. Here, we provide the first preliminary investigation into synaesthesia for pain in amputees to determine the incidence and characteristics of this intriguing phenomenon. Self-referring amputees (n= 74) answered questions on synaesthesia for pain within a broader survey of phantom pain. Of the participants, 16.2% reported that observing or imagining pain in another person triggers their phantom pain. Further understanding of synaesthesia for pain may provide a greater insight to abnormal empathic function in clinical populations as well as therapeutic intervention for at risk groups.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3675-3678
    Number of pages4
    JournalNeuropsychologia
    Volume48
    Issue number12
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010

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