Latency to detection of first pain

James N. Campbell, Robert H. LaMotte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The latency to detection of heat stimuli applied to the distal forearm and thenar eminence was measured in 3 subjects in order to determine whether short latency responses correlated with perception of first pain. Only one temperature was used in a given run and stimuli ranged from 39 to 51 °C. In addition, subjects were interviewed at the end of each run regarding the quality of sensations experienced. In one series of experiments the quality of the first sensation evoked by each stimulus rather than latency was recorded. The median response latency decreased exponentially from 1100 ms to 400 ms for the distal arm and 1100 ms to 700 ms for the hand. The higher temperatures elicited a double pain sensation on the arm, but not on the glabrous hand. Warmth was always the first sensation felt on the hand. It is concluded that short latencies (less than 450 ms) reliably denote the presence of first pain, and that at least some portion of the primary afferents that signal first pain must have conduction velocities greater than 6m/s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-208
Number of pages6
JournalBrain research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 5 1983


  • first pain
  • pain
  • response latency
  • thermal sensation
  • warmth sensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Latency to detection of first pain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this