Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Over the last three decades, chronic pain has become conceptualized as a multidimensional phenomenon, in that cognitive and emotional factors have become acknowledged as important contributors to the experience and expression of chronic pain. Although this general theoretical understanding of chronic pain has become widely accepted, there has been relatively little research to date which attempts to delineate the specific ways in which cognitive operations may be influenced by various dimensions of chronic pain. The present dissertation represents an attempt to expand upon the empirical knowledge regarding cognitive processing in chronic pain. Specifically, the present project has been designed to examine the relative influence of chronic pain and depression on attention, short-term memory, and long-term memory. In general terms, it was expected that processing of pain and emotion-relevant stimuli would each be biased in a direction which was congruent with the pain or emotional status of the subjects.;Two pilot studies were run to determine the relevant parameters of phenomena under consideration. Pilot Study I was designed to investigate the relationship of depressed mood to sensory and affective dimensions of chronic pain. Using psychometric methodology, it was found that depressed mood was more strongly associated to the affective than to the sensory dimension of chronic pain. Pilot Study II was designed as a preliminary examination of the selective effect of chronic pain and depressed mood on state-specific attentional processes, as exemplified by a modified Stroop task. That Pilot Study II did not yield the predicted results was explained in terms of diagnostic criteria and potential uncontrolled methodologically-related variance. Results obtained in Pilot Study I informed much of the design and methodology employed in the principal study.;Subjects in the principal study were selected on the basis of rigorous diagnostic criteria to form the following four groups: pain-depressed, pain-nondepressed, nonpain-depressed, and nonpain-nondepressed. The principal study was comprised of three components. Phase I was a modified Stroop task, which used methodology modified on the basis of results obtained in Pilot Study II. Phase II was an autobiographical memory task, and Phase III was an incidental recognition task. In general, it was found that chronic pain and depression each exerted a unique biasing influence on each of the cognitive processes investigated in the three phases of the principal study. Results of the present project were discussed in terms of their theoretical and clinical implications.



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