Reaction times to painless and painful CO2 and argon laser stimulation

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1988;58(3):266-73. doi: 10.1007/BF00417261.


The introduction of lasers in pain research has made it possible to activate the nociceptive system without activating mechanosensitive afferents. In the present study the reaction times to painless and painful laser stimuli were studied to investigate if the reaction time to experimental pain is reproduceable. CO2 and argon lasers were used for stimulation, and the influence of stimulus (intensity and duration) and skin parameters (temperature, thickness, and reflectance) on reaction time were investigated. When these parameters were controlled the reaction times to painful CO2 and argon laser stimulation were within the same range (350-450 ms), and the intra-individual variability minimal (6.9%). The reaction time was used to estimate peripheral conduction velocity (10 m.s-1) for the activated fibre population when distinct pain was perceived. Determination of reaction times to non-painful and painful stimuli may be suitable ways to assess the functioning of thermal and nociceptive pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Argon
  • Body Temperature
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lasers*
  • Male
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Reaction Time / physiology*


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Argon