Physiological effects of mechanical pain stimulation at the lower back measured by functional near-infrared spectroscopy and capnography

Holper, Lisa; Gross, Andrea; Scholkmann, Felix; Humphreys, B. Kim; Meier, Michael L.; Wolf, Ursula; Wolf, Martin; Hotz-Boendermaker, Sabina (2014). Physiological effects of mechanical pain stimulation at the lower back measured by functional near-infrared spectroscopy and capnography. Journal of Integrative Neuroscience, 13(1), pp. 121-142. Imperial College Press 10.1142/S0219635214500071

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The aim was to investigate the effect of mechanical pain stimulation at the lower back on hemodynamic and oxygenation changes in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) assessed by functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and on the partial pressure of end-tidal carbon dioxide ( PetCO 2) measured by capnography. 13 healthy subjects underwent three measurements (M) during pain stimulation using pressure pain threshold (PPT) at three locations, i.e., the processus spinosus at the level of L4 (M1) and the lumbar paravertebral muscles at the level of L1 on the left (M2) and the right (M3) side. Results showed that only in the M2 condition the pain stimulation elicited characteristic patterns consisting of (1) a fNIRS-derived decrease in oxy- and total hemoglobin concentration and tissue oxygen saturation, an increase in deoxy-hemoglobin concentration, (2) a decrease in the PetCO 2 response and (3) a decrease in coherence between fNIRS parameters and PetCO 2 responses in the respiratory frequency band (0.2-0.5 Hz). We discuss the comparison between M2 vs. M1 and M3, suggesting that the non-significant findings in the two latter measurements were most likely subject to effects of the different stimulated tissues, the stimulated locations and the stimulation order. We highlight that PetCO 2 is a crucial parameter for proper interpretation of fNIRS data in experimental protocols involving pain stimulation. Together, our data suggest that the combined fNIRS-capnography approach has potential for further development as pain monitoring method, such as for evaluating clinical pain treatment.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Medical Education > Institute of Complementary and Integrative Medicine (IKIM)

UniBE Contributor:

Scholkmann, Felix Vishnu, Wolf, Ursula


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Imperial College Press




Sabine Klein

Date Deposited:

10 Oct 2014 09:32

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:25

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:



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