While the standard neurophysiological techniques (NCV, SEPs) provide functional information about the non-nocicpetive pathways, they cannot explore the nociceptive afferents. In the last 20 years, different technqiues have been developed to investigate the thin myelinated and unmyelinated fibers which veiculate the nociceptive input. Among them, the brain evoked potentials to infrared laser stimulation of the skin represent the most diffused technique for the exploration of the nociceptive pathways. Laser evoked potentials (LEPs) have been widely used in different types of painful neuropathies and also provided useful information about the pathophysiological mechanisms of differet types of neuropathic pain. The biological background and the present and future applications of the pain evoked potentials will be discussed.
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