Quantitative EEG modifications during the cold water pressor test: hemispheric and hand differences

Stefano Ferracuti, Stefano Seri, Donatella Mattia, Giorgio Cruccu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a study designed to investigate the neurophysiological correlates of the Cold Water Pressor Test, a standardized experimental model of tonic pain, spectral EEGs were examined during the test in 15 young right-handed adults. Each subject performed a "cold water" and a "warm water" session. The subject immersed in cold water (0°C) either the right or the left hand alone, in a randomized way. EEG activity was recorded for an initial 3 min baseline and for the first and second minute epochs after immersion. A further EEG recording was obtained after a 30-min rest. Pain intensity was measured with a visual analogue scale. The EEG recordings showed several patterns of cortical activation during the test. Alpha2 desynchronization was more evident on the contralateral parietal electrodes of the stimulated hand and lasted longer over all the right hemisphere. Delta activity increased bilaterally, predominantly in the frontal leads. Stimulation of the left hand resulted in a higher delta increase during the second minute after immersion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-268
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • (Human)
  • Cold pressor test
  • Experimental pain
  • Pain lateralization
  • Q-EEG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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