Dr. Greenspan Projects

My laboratory focuses on the neural mechanisms of somesthesis, and physiological factors that influence our perception of touch, temperature, and pain. We have several active areas of investigation, which allows us to gain different perspectives of this complex field.

I. Investigating the neural basis of individual variation and sex differences in pain.

Such work has relied on quantitative sensory testing (QST) and functional neuroimaging to evaluate neural processing in the human brain. Results from this work lead to our understanding of how individual differences in pain sensitivity and clinical pain susceptibility are manifest, which is an essential first step in developing individualized medical treatments for chronic pain conditions.

II. Serving as the University of Maryland PI for the OPPERA study: a multi-center prospective study of the predictive biomarkers for temporomandibular disorder (TMD) pain.

This project, in collaboration with three other Dental Schools in the US, is generating a large population database of measures of pain sensitivity, cardiovascular reactivity, psychological profiles, behavioral and medical histories, and genomic polymorphisms.  The objective of this project is to identify the factors that can predict the onset and chronicity of chronic musculoskeletal orofacial pain, and related pain disorders.

III. Investigating the neurophysiological basis for analgesia through non-invasive brain stimulation.

This work evaluates transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) as a non-invasive approach to discretely modify brain function, leading to pain reduction. This initiative includes evaluating treatment efficacy, and also identifying the neural mechanisms underlying such efficacy.

IV.  Investigating the extent that physiological, psychological, and pain sensitivity measures can predict efficacy of analgesic treatments and the course of post-operative pain.