Various factors are known to maintain pain. Among them, lack of control over pain, a frequent complaint of chronic pain patients, increases pain intensity and unpleasantness2 and is associated with changes in physiological measures and brain activation. Our previous results, submitted for publication, suggest that lack of control over pain is associated with an activation of perigenual anterior cingulate cortex (pACC) and periaqueductal gray (PAG). These brain areas have previously been associated with control over pain. Temporal summation of pain (TS) is defined as a perceptual increase in pain intensity after long-lasting or repetitive (0.3Hz) stimuli. Our previous results suggest that lack of control over pain is driving TS. Interestingly, an increase in TS is observed in chronic pain patients.
There has recently been a growing interest in therapies using meditative practices. Compassion meditation is a practice that aims to cultivate compassion for the self and others, in addition to focused attention. A core process of compassion is empathy. It has been shown that compassion training influences empathy. Moreover, empathy impacts on physiological measures. Recent results show that practicing compassion reduces pain, anger and psychological distress symptoms in chronic pain patients. We aim here to investigate if compassion training of a subject and his relative influences the lack of control that drives TS.