I find it curious that certain kinds of physical pain affect the cognitive process and attention span much more than others.
For me for instance, pain in either head or mouth makes me function in a much more limited fashion, whereas pain in any of the joints, or that affect walking or movement or fine motor control, even when large amounts of pain medication don't fully relieve them, are much easier to ignore (annoying and possibly frustrating, but "less" painful even when doctors suggest that I might be in lots of pain). Perhaps my particular response has something to do with the R.A. diagnosed when I was still a child (previously in remission until recently), or learning to live with various bits of osteoarthritis including a disk degeneration in my upper spine, and/or perhaps it is just much harder for me to ignore pain when it is closer to the brain? (hmmm... more tangents of thought: harder to ignore because the nerves transmitting the pain are closer to the brain or maybe more likely because it is different than pain I am in the habit of ignoring??).
Though I know that pain responses are subjective, I haven't done much study of this beyond the basic physiological processes and some overviews required in my 3 medical aspects classes; it is an area of interest. I note that there are cognitive and physiological studies being done in all sorts of disciplines from neuroscience to philosophy and of course, psychology. I also notice that several of these mention depression as a factor in the quantity of pain reported by various patients.
wow... I did some futher scanning of various articles without going to the University Library database for actual research and the links are numerous and far flung; trying various disciplines + physical pain, these are a tiny sampling of the things I started reading:
March 04: Psychological Aspects of Disability
Jan 1998: Psychological Aspects of Disability
Dr. Grolhol's Blog of Psychology: Depression Can Lead to Back Pain
All About Pain: Psychological Management of Pain
The Biology of Pain
Effects of Music on Pain Perception
There are a limited few reading this who might wonder if there are other reasons I am looking at this today. Yes, I am in some pain (maybe "some pain" is an understatement) from the dental stuff on Friday. 1000 mgs of ibuprophen every 6 hours was enough to eliminate it yesterday (I don't "do" codeine); but today 1000 mgs every 4 hours is not actually eliminating it entirely.. sigh.. and with the pain increase, my "head isn't working right". So I got scattered on several tangents from wondering if the location of pain had anything to do with decreasing cognitive functioning in some sort of correlation, to perception of pain in general and everything in between and beyond.. definitely places for future study, but more than I can wrap my head around in any orderly fashion today.