Valerie Kung and Jaime Lin

Assessing Pain’s Complexity

Aim: “Assessing and treating people who are considering surgery to relieve intense pain.” (DeAngelis, 2008)
Target Population:
Participants: - People with spinal problems and central nervous system diseases.
- candidates who aren't immediately ready for surgery but could be if treated for problems such as severe anxiety or mood disorders, suicidal thinking, substance abuse or other emotional patterns that can influence pain perception

- Factors that may lead to decide that a patient is not suitable include severe psychological symptoms, chemical dependency, unrealistic expectations of the device and poor response to past pain treatments
- “If a person's emotional problems are sufficiently severe, it will be difficult for them to change their perception of pain despite the objective benefits of the implantable device.” (DeAngelis, 2008)
- about a third of candidates ready for surgery
- another third too physically or psychologically vulnerable to undertake it
- The remaining third - more evaluation; either a weeklong, noninvasive trial that mimics the surgery and includes observations on how the person is coping, or short-term therapy that includes the trial at the end

- People must be emotionally stable
- People have to understand that the surgeries might not completely alleviate their pain
Prager conducts two types of surgeries for patients who have not benefited from more conservative approaches, including people with spinal problems and central nervous system diseases. Using a technique called neurostimulation, he implants an electrical generator in the buttock that is attached to a wire tunneled under the skin to a location near the spine where the pain originates. The generator emits an electrical impulse that alters pain signals to the brain.” (DeAngelis, 2008)
- “With the other surgery, neuraxial drug administration, he implants a pump in the abdomen that is attached to a catheter, again positioned near the locus of pain in the spine. The device delivers regular microdoses of pain medication to the site, allowing the patient to benefit from a lower dose of opiates or other pain medications, thereby reducing or eliminating side effects such as cognitive impairment, drowsiness and constipation.” (DeAngelis, 2008)

- The experiment has not yet been conducted.

- Careful with who they conduct the experiment on (emotionally/mentally stable participants)
- Nothing that raises controversy

With reference to:
DeAngelis, T. (2008, May, 5). Assessing pain's complexity. Monitor on Psychology, 39, Retrieved August 31, 2009, from

Brain & Nervous System (Mary and VonLyn)
How damage in different parts of the brain affect one’s attention.

Target Population

People with brain damage.

- Participants

People with brain lesions in specific parts of the frontal lobe, lesions outside the frontal lobes, and healthy brains (control group)

- Sample

25, 11, 12 respectively


*participated in increasingly complex tasks
1. press button with their dominant hand when they saw a specific shape flash on a screen and pressed a different button with their other hand when any other shape appeared.
2. Measure reaction times and error rates


1. three out of the four brain areas they studied affected the patients’ performance in different ways
a. medial frontal lesions are correlated with brain’s readiness to respond
b. left dorsolateral lesions correlates with correct threshold for response to external stimulus
c. right dorsolateral lesions creates difficulty distinguishing relevant characteristics
d. inferior medial frontal lesions is not involved in the attentional skills studied

Ethics (did the research process raise any ethical issues?)

No ethical problems.

Smith, D. (2002, December). Does brain damage cause different kinds of attention problems?. Retrieved August
30, 2009, from APA Online Web site:

Henry Chen and Tommy Fritz
Aim: To help cure/understand epilepsy
Target Population: People with epilepsy
-Participants: Afflicted patients who volunteered by going to the Minnesota Epilepsy Group
-Sample: Unstated
Procedure: A physician injects an anesthetic into the patient's carotid artery to knock out an entire hemisphere of brain function and then sees if he or she can still talk
Findings: Which hemisphere a patient's epliepsy resided in, to enable enlightened brain surgery
Ethics: “The WADA test is a very invasive, uncomfortable procedure, and there's some risk of morbidity."

Dingfelder, S. F. (2009). From the research lab to the operating room.Monitor on Psychology, 40, Retrieved August 31, 2009, from