A review on various topics on the thermal grill illusion

Dong Ah Shin, Min Cheol Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The thermal grill illusion (TGI) is a paradoxical perception of burning heat and pain resulting from the simultaneous application of interlaced warm and cold stimuli to the skin. The TGI is considered a type of chronic centralized pain and has been used to apply nociceptive stimuli without inflicting harm to human participants in the study of pain mechanisms. In addition, the TGI is an interesting phenomenon for researchers, and various topics related to the TGI have been investigated in several studies, which we will review here. According to previous studies, the TGI is generated by supraspinal interactions. To evoke the TGI, cold and warm cutaneous stimuli should be applied within the same dermatome or across dermatomes corresponding to adjacent spinal segments, and a significant difference between cold and warm temperatures is necessary. In addition, due the presence of chronic pain, genetic factors, and sexual differences, the intensity of the TGI can differ. In addition, cold noxious stimulation, topical capsaicin, analgesics, self-touch, and the presence of psychological diseases can decrease the intensity of the TGI. Because the TGI corresponds to chronic centralized pain, we believe that the findings of previous studies can be applied to future studies to identify chronic pain mechanisms and clinical practice for pain management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3597
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Aug 2

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the 2021 Joint Research Project of Institutes of Science and Technology.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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