|Neural and Pain Sciences|
Brain imaging in humans
Where in the brain is pain realized? We haven't quite figured that out, but we do know that specific areas of the brain - many areas, in fact - are activated when a person is experiencing pain. One of our goals with human neuroimaging is to determine the role of cognitive and emotional factors on these activations. We are currently investigating the effect of attention states on acute pain and in people with various chronic pain conditions. In the case of chronic pain, we are investigating the effects of different treatments on abnormal brain activity and anatomy. We investigate these problems using task and resting state functional MRI, and structural MRI including diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
Brain imaging and behavior in rats
Structural MRI studies
In addition to functional MRI, we also investigate gray matter density and cortical thickness changes associated with chronic pain. We recently found that people with chronic low back pain who were treated effectively for their pain had an increase in cortical thickness in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which was thinner before treatment than healthy controls.
Identifying brain targets for pain treatment