Pain-related evoked potentials are modulated across the cardiac cycle

Evidence suggests that the arterial baroreceptors modulate pain. To examine whether cortical processing of nociception is modulated by natural variations in arterial baroreceptor stimulation during the cardiac cycle, peak-to-peak amplitudes of the N2–P2 pain-related potential and pain ratings were recorded in response to noxious laser stimulation at different times during the cardiac cycle in 10 healthy males. Significant variations in the N2–P2 amplitudes occurred across the cardiac cycle, with smaller amplitudes midcycle, indicating that cortical processing of nociception was attenuated during systole compared to diastole. Pain ratings did not vary across the cardiac cycle. These data support the hypothesis that arterial baroreceptors modulate the processing of nociception during each cardiac cycle.