WINNERS OF THE EFIC-GRÜNENTHAL GRANT (EGG) 2004

Jeffrey Roelofs, PhD

THE ROLE OF SELF-DISCREPANCIES IN PATIENTS WITH CHRONIC PAIN
Self-discrepancies (discrepancies between the actual self and either the ideal self or the ought self) may play an important role in the prediction of avoidance behaviour and disability in chronic low back pain. This project aims to explore the role of self-discrepancies in the prediction of avoidance behaviour (and in turn disability) in addition to pain-related behavior as postulated by the 'fear-avoidance' model of chronic pain. Two studies examine whether specific emotions that arise from existing self-discrepancies mediate the relation between self-discrepancies and avoidance behaviours and to what extent in-vivo exposure reduces actual-ideal and actual-ought self-discrepancies as well as the associated specific emotions.

MODULATION OF PAIN PERCEPTION IN UNINJURED AND INJURED TISSUE IN HUMAN VOLUNTEERS.
In our experiments we will use an extensive and standardised quantitative sensory testing (QST) battery to characterise modulation of human pain perception in uninjured (heterotopic hyperalgesia and hypoalgesia) and injured (homotopic hyperalgesia and hypoalgesia) tissue after an experimental incision in human volunteers. Using the QST battery, we will further study the role of muscle tissue injury and the class of afferent nerves important for pain and hyperalgesia after a surgical incision in human volunteers.

Esther Pogatzki-Zahn, MD
Ron Kupers, PhD

MRI STUDY ON THE AFFECTIVE MODULATION OF PAIN PROCESSING IN THE HUMAN BRAIN.
Pain perception can be significantly altered by affective conditioning. Affective conditioning refers to the change in the affective evaluation after a neutral stimulus has been associated with a second affective stimulus. Subjects previously exposed to aversive conditioning while receiving painful stimuli report significantly higher pain ratings compared to subjects exposed to appetitive conditioning or emotionally neutral stimuli. We will use fMRI to study the cerebral circuitry underlying this form of affective modulation of pain processing.

GENETIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES ON PAIN SENSITIVITY AND REGULATION. PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHARMACOLOGICAL MECHANISMS.
The effect of psychological and pharmacological interventions (opioid and placebo) on experimental pain tested in a population of twin-pairs.

Prof. Audun Stubhaug, MD, PhD
Stefaan Van Damme, PhD

ATTENTION TO PAIN IN THE CROSSMODAL CONSTRUCTION OF SPACE.
In an efficient attentional system, spatial attention has to be coordinated across several sensory modalities. In previous research, the effects of pain on different aspects of attention have been investigated separately. However, in order to efficiently respond to pain, a crossmodal integration of spatial processes seems to be necessary. In this project, we will investigate these processes in a series of experiments, in order to develop an ecological and dynamic theory on the perception of and response to pain.

NEUROPHYSIOLOGY OF PAIN PERCEPTION IN THE HUMAN BRAIN.
The project aims at investigating, by means of intracortical recordings, the neurophysiological substrate of pain perception in the human brain (functional connectivity and activation timing, coding of pain intensity, modulation by attentional context). We are primarily interested in the binding of spatial and temporal aspects of pain processing, especially in a cortical network composed of the opercular supra-sylvian cortex, the insula and the anterior cingulate cortex.

Maud Gaëlle Frot, PhD
Predrag Petrovic, MD, PhD

INTERACTION BETWEEN THE ENDOGENOUS OPIOID SYSTEM IN THE BRAIN AND COGNITIVE MODULATION OF PAIN.
The present project is focussesing on the interaction between the endogenous opioid system in the brain and cognitive modulation of pain such as placebo analgesia. We have previously suggested that placebo responders are more likely to have a more effective opioid system than non-responders. We will try to further study this issue further using PET methodology and genetics.