Research Article| Volume 20, ISSUE 12, P1297-1302, December 1985

Download started.


Pain, anxiety, and contingent negative variation: A clinical and pharmacological study

      This paper is only available as a PDF. To read, Please Download here.


      Contingent negative variation (CNV) behavior was studied in 16 volunteers who were suffering from spontaneous recurrent pain syndromes (idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia, classic migraine). The subjects were divided into two groups, “more anxious” and “less anxious,” based on psychometric tests (MMPI and STAI X2). The CNV recordings were carried out, respectively, in basal resting state, during an episode of pain, while under anxiolytic treatment, and lastly, during an episode of pain while under anxiolytic therapy. CNV voltage decrease and frequent appearance of postimperative negative variation (PINV) were observed when pain was present during the recording session. These phenomena were more marked when the pain was accompanied by a greater degree of anxiety. Finally, our results suggest that this slow evoked potential is sensitive to various degrees of anxiety and to pain perception in man, making it useful in the investigation of pain as a complex sensation.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Biological Psychiatry
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Chouinard G.
        • Annable L.
        • Dubrosky B.
        • Dongier M.
        Postimperative negative variation (PINV) in ambulatory schizophrenic patients.
        Compr Psychiatry. 1975; 16: 457-460
        • Gauthier P.
        • Gottesman C.
        Etude de la variation contingente négative et de l'onde post-impérative en presence d'interférences.
        Electroenceph Clin Neurophysiol. 1976; 40: 143-152
        • Irwin D.A.
        • Knott J.R.
        • McAdam D.W.
        • Rebert C.S.
        Motivational determinants of the contingent negative variation.
        Electroenceph Clin Neurophysiol. 1966; 21: 538-543
        • Knott J.R.
        • Irwin D.A.
        Anxiety, stress and the contingent negative variation.
        Electroenceph Clin Neurophysiol. 1968; 24: 286-287
        • Knott J.R.
        • Irwin D.A.
        Anxiety, stress and the contingent negative variation.
        Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973; 29: 538-541
        • Low M.D.
        • Coats A.C.
        • Retting G.M.
        • McSherry J.W.
        Anxiety, attentiveness-alertness: Phenomenological study of the CNV.
        Neuropsychologia. 1967; 5: 379-384
        • Low M.D.
        • McSherry J.W.
        Further observations of psychological factors involved in CNV genesis.
        Electroenceph Clin Neurophysiol. 1968; 25: 203-207
        • McCallum W.G.
        • Walter W.G.
        The effects of attention and distraction on the contingent negative variation in normal and neurotic subjects.
        Electroenceph Clin Neurophysiol. 1968; 25: 319-329
        • Price D.D.
        • Barrel J.J.
        • Grocely R.H.
        A psychological analysis of experiential factors that selectively influence the effective dimension of pain.
        Pain. 1980; 8: 137-149
        • Rizzo P.A.
        • Albani G.F.
        • Pierelli F.
        • Pozzessere G.
        • Morocutti C.
        Further observations on experimental pain influence on brain preparatory sets.
        Phronesis. 1982; 3: 15-19
        • Rizzo P.A.
        • Caporali M.
        • Pierelli F.
        • Spadaro M.
        • Zanasi M.
        • Morocutti C.
        • Albani G.
        Pain influence on brain preparatory sets.
        Ann NY Acad Sci. 1984; 425: 676-680
        • Tecce J.J.
        Contingent negative variation (CNV) and psychological processes in man.
        Psychol Bull. 1972; 77: 73-108
        • Tecce J.J.
        • Hamilton B.T.
        CNV reduction by sustained cognitive activity (distraction).
        in: McCallum W.C. Knott S.J. Event-related Slow Potentials of the Brain: Their Relations to Behaviour. Electroenceph Clin Neurophysiol Suppl 33. Elsevier, Amsterdam1973
        • Walter W.G.
        • Cooper R.
        • Aldridge V.J.
        • McCallum W.C.
        • Winter A.L.
        Contingent negative variation: An electric sign of sensorimotor association and expectancy in the human brain.
        Nature (London). 1964; 203: 380-384