Autonomic responses to pain in aging and dementia

B. Plooij, D. Swaab, E.J.A. Scherder

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Increasing age and dementia are accompanied by an increased risk for undertreatment of pain owing to difficulty in assessing pain. Registration of autonomic responses to pain may contribute to a more reliable pain assessment. The aim of this review was to gain more insight into autonomic responses to pain in older persons with and without dementia. Literature searches were performed in the online databases MEDLINE and Web of Science. Seven studies on autonomic responses to pain in older people with or without dementia were included in the review. Autonomic responses to pain are present in older people with and without dementia, although they may be attenuated. Because no distinction could be made between different dementia subtypes based on these studies, predictions of changes in autonomic responses to pain have been made based on neuropathological changes. It can be concluded that autonomic responses to pain are attenuated in older people with and without dementia. Studies to specify the changes in the different autonomic responses for the different dementia subtypes are needed. © 2011 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-589
JournalReviews in the Neurosciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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