Fibromyalgia Patients Show Poorer-than-Usual ‘Selective Learning’ of Pain Triggers in Study

Fibromyalgia Patients Show Poorer-than-Usual ‘Selective Learning’ of Pain Triggers in Study
Patients with fibromyalgia show a poorer ability for "selective learning" of pain triggers, which may contribute to their widespread pain, a study reports. The study, “Reduced selective learning in patients with fibromyalgia vs healthy controls,” was published in the journal Pain. Pain episodes can occur at the same time as other non-painful stimuli, which can result in spreading of fear and persistent anxiety. Although identifying causes of pain is key, discriminating  actual pain predictors from other stimuli can be challenging. Research shows that individuals with chronic pain have impaired selective "fear" learning. The litmus test of selective learning is the blocking procedure, which consists in pairing one event with pain in the first stage, followed by pairing a different, non-painful event with the original pain-inducing stimulus. When testing non-painful stimulus alone, fear response is normally weak or blocked despite its previous association with pain. Selective learning may be compromised, as described in people with high anxiety. Aiming to study whether patients with fibromyalgia have a poorer evidence of selective threat learning compared to healthy individuals, researchers used a clinical diary to develop a five-phase selective learning task. A total of 27 patients with fibromyalgia (26 women, mean age 46) and 27 healthy controls rated six scenarios from 0 (“certainly no pain”) to 10 ("certainly pain”) based on whether they expected those sit
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