Neural Imaging Laboratory

The major aim of the laboratory is to define the brain circuitry underlying the responses to pain originating in different structures. We are particularly interested in defining which brain regions are responsible for the different perceptual qualities associated with pain of different origin; pain originating in skin is normally sharp and easy to localise whereas pain of muscle origin is usually dull and diffuse.

More specifically, this laboratory investigates pain processing by exploring brain activation patterns during skin and muscle pain, as well as examining the cardiovascular consequences of these manipulations in terms of sympathetic nerve activation. Furthermore, the superficial and deep pain processing circuits are being studied.

In collaboration with Dr Macefield at POWMRI and Dr Keay in the Laboratory of Neural Structure and Function in the Discipline of Anatomy and Histology, we have been using fMRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy to explore brain activation patterns during skin and muscle pain in human subjects. In addition, the cardiovascular consequences of these manipulations are being investigated using microneurography (measures sympathetic nerve activity in human subjects).

In collaboration with Dr Keay, we are investigating superficial and deep pain processing circuits in animals using both behavioural and immunohistochemical techniques. Future investigations will include the use of MicroPET imaging to further our understanding of the neurochemical basis of pain processing