|Coordinatore||UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN
address: Place De L'Universite 1
|Nazionalità Coordinatore||Belgium [BE]|
|Totale costo||45˙000 €|
|EC contributo||45˙000 €|
Specific programme "People" implementing the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007 to 2013)
|Anno di inizio||2010|
|Periodo (anno-mese-giorno)||2010-03-01 - 2013-02-28|
UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN
address: Place De L'Universite 1
|BE (LOUVAIN LA NEUVE)||coordinator||45˙000.00|
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'How does the brain process noxious stimuli, and how does this lead to the perception of pain? Human electrophysiological studies using electroencephalography (EEG) or magnetoencephalography (MEG), as well as studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) or positron emission tomography (PET), have all shown that noxious stimuli, or painful stimuli, elicit neural responses in a vast array of cortical structures. Although a large number of investigators have proposed that these brain responses form a cortical network specifically or preferentially involved in the perception of pain (i.e. the so-called “pain matrix”), the actual functional significance of these brain responses remains obscure. For example, recent studies have shown that these responses reflect brain processes that can also be triggered by non-noxious stimuli and that these may be largely related to non-specific mechanisms of arousal and/or attentional capture. Hence, to progress in our understanding of the cortical mechanisms underlying the perception of pain, novel approaches are needed to identify brain responses more specifically related to the processing of noxious input. This will constitute the main objective of the present research project, which will combine novel methods to analyse EEG, MEG and fMRI signals, with novel methods to activate the nociceptive system in humans.'
An EU-funded project has developed new tools that will allow scientists to better understand the neural responses involved in the perception of pain.
Studies of the brain's reaction to pain have highlighted complex, interlinked responses in various brain structures. To understand the underlying neural mechanisms associated with pain perception ( nociception), researchers need novel approaches to stimulate and measure brain signals.
The IDENTIFYING PAIN project developed a new set of techniques to activate and analyse nociception in humans. The project created collaborations between universities in Belgium, Canada, China, France and the United Kingdom to advance our understanding of pain.
Project partners focused on new ways to activate nociception and detect brain activity. Two novel ways to stimulate the system were developed and validated. These were carbon dioxide (CO2) laser stimulation of temperature-sensitive nerve cells, and the direct electrical stimulation of free nerve endings using implants.
These stimulatory signals were tested and validated using traditional methods such as electroencephalography (EEG). Novel approaches including the detection of steady-state evoked potentials (SS-Eps) and gamma band EEG oscillations (GBOs) were also employed.
SS-Eps were stimulated using both methods, and results showed that specific areas of brain activity were related to each type of signal. Detection of GBOs showed for the first time that this technique could predict the subjective perception of pain. Another study finding was that the threshold of heat detection could be determined by measuring EEG responses.
IDENTIFYING PAIN project members made a number of technological and methodological breakthroughs in the detection and study of pain in humans. In fact, the tools developed during the project are already in use in several other laboratories.
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