Recent work found that experimental pain appeared to negate alterations in cortical somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) that occurred in response to motor learning acquisition of a novel tracing task. The goal of this experiment was to further investigate the interactive effects of pain stimulus location on motor learning acquisition, retention, and sensorimotor processing. Three groups of twelve participants (n
= 36) were randomly assigned to either a local capsaicin group, remote capsaicin group or contralateral capsaicin group. SEPs were collected at baseline, post-application of capsaicin cream, and following a motor learning task. Participants performed a motor tracing acquisition task followed by a pain-free retention task 24–48 h later while accuracy data was recorded. The P25 (p
< 0.001) SEP peak significantly decreased following capsaicin application for all groups. Following motor learning acquisition, the N18 SEP peak decreased for the remote capsaicin group (p
= 0.02) while the N30 (p
= 0.002) SEP peaks increased significantly following motor learning acquisition for all groups. The local, remote and contralateral capsaicin groups improved in accuracy following motor learning (p
< 0.001) with no significant differences between the groups. Early SEP alterations are markers of the neuroplasticity that accompanies acute pain and motor learning acquisition. Improved motor learning while in acute pain may be due to an increase in arousal, as opposed to increased attention to the limb performing the task.
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