Diffuse noxious inhibitory control. Reappraisal by pain-related somatosensory evoked potentials following CO2 laser stimulation

J Neurol Sci. 1994 Sep;125(2):198-205. doi: 10.1016/0022-510x(94)90036-1.


The effects of DNIC (diffuse noxious inhibitory control) in humans were evaluated by means of pain SEPs (somatosensory evoked potentials) and pain visual analogue scale (VAS) following CO2 laser stimulation applied to the left knee while conditioning stimuli (non-noxious and noxious thermal stimuli) applied to the right hand. Pain SEPs were recorded from scalp electrodes following laser stimulation applied to the left knee during various conditions as follows: (1) control (without any interference), (2) non-noxious (dipping the right hand in water at 41 degrees C for 3 min), (3) noxious (dipping the right hand in water at 46 degrees C for 3 min), and (4) after-effect (3-6 min after taking the hand from the water at 46 degrees C). The present pain SEPs findings confirmed the presence of DNIC in humans, and indicates: (1) degree of pain relief was significantly correlated with changes in pain SEPs, particularly a marked decrease in amplitude, and a decrease in VAS; (2) DNIC was more effective on the second pain than the first pain; (3) the effect of DNIC gradually increased over time, but it rapidly disappeared after the conditioning stimuli ceased; and (4) DNIC was not due merely to changes of attention. I propose that the site responsible for DNIC is the brainstem or the spinal cord rather than the cerebral hemisphere.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Stem / physiopathology*
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Cold Temperature
  • Conditioning, Psychological
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory*
  • Female
  • Hand
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Immersion
  • Knee Joint
  • Lasers*
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Nociceptors / physiology
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / physiopathology*


  • Carbon Dioxide