NOCIONS
Pain research at the Institute of Neuroscience (IONS)
Université catholique de Louvain (UCL)

The ability to perceive pain is crucial for survival, but pain is also a major healthcare issue as its treatment constitutes a very problematic challenge for physicians. Because of its aversive quality and its high prevalence, chronic pain affects the quality of life of millions of individuals, and imposes a severe financial burden upon our societies. Therefore, progress in understanding the neural representation of pain in humans is not only important for basic neuroscience research. Indeed, it is also critical to develop effective strategies for the diagnosis and management of pathological pain conditions.

Basic, translational and clinical pain research at the Institute of Neuroscience (IONS). Better understanding the neural processes underlying the perception of pain and developing novel means to diagnose and manage chronic pain conditions constitutes the core objective of several research groups and clinicians within our institute. 

The research teams are based at the Institute of Neuroscience (IONS) of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL).  See also the 2013-2014 and 2011-2012 activities report of the Institute.

André Mouraux pain research EEG nociception letswave software analysis free matlab wavelets toolbox nocions

Research team led by André Mouraux

Using non-invasive functional neuroimaging techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), combined with novel techniques to selectively activate specific classes of nociceptive afferents, the research performed by the team of André Mouraux (IONS/COSY) follows two main axes. First, to understand how the human brain processes nociceptive sensory input and how this leads to the perception of pain. Second, to understand the plastic changes in nociceptive pathways that occur after inflammation, injury or sustained nociceptive input that induce peripheral and central sensitization and may underlie the development of chronic pain in humans.

 

Research team led by Valery Legrain

The main research interest of the team led by Valery Legrain (IONS/COSY) is to understand the cognitive mechanisms modulating the link between nociception and the conscious perception of pain, and the neurobiological substrates of these cognitive mechanisms. Different approaches are used: neurophysiology (event-related brain potentials), cognitive psychology (mental chronometry) and neuropsychology (investigation of patients with sensory-motor or attentional deficits).
 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Research team led by Valery Legrain

The main research interest of the team led by Valery Legrain (IONS/COSY) is to understand the cognitive mechanisms modulating the link between nociception and the conscious perception of pain, and the neurobiological substrates of these cognitive mechanisms. Different approaches are used: neurophysiology (event-related brain potentials), cognitive psychology (mental chronometry) and neuropsychology (investigation of patients with sensory-motor or attentional deficits).
 

 

Research team led by Emmanuel Hermans


The research group of Prof. Emmanuel Hermans (IONS/CEMO) has a long-standing expertise in the use of animal models to study the neuroinflammation and plastic changes of the central nervous system induced by neurotrauma, and its involvement in the development of neuropathic pain. His laboratory has experience in the production of animal models of neuropathic pain, the techniques used to study the pain behaviour of these animals, and the immune-histological techniques to characterize the glial activation and changes in nociceptive pathways at peripheral, spinal and supra-spinal level.
 

 

Clinical pain research at the University Hospital


At the Cliniques universitaires Saint Luc, the Department of Anaesthesiology is involved in several clinical research projects focusing on the problematic of chronic post-operative pain. The multidisciplinary Chronic Pain Consultation led by Prof. Anne Berquin is involved in clinical research projects aiming at improving the multidisciplinary management of patients with chronic pain, including the development of new psychophysical techniques to assess patients with neuropathic pain, new bio-psycho-social approaches for the care of patients with chronic regional pain syndrome and chronic widespread pain.

Letswave 6

Letswave is a free toolbox to analyze electroencephalographic (EEG) and other neurophysiological signals, running in Matlab. As compared to existing signal processing toolboxes, emphasis is placed on intuitive and streamlined tools to process and visualize neurophysiological signals, with a shallow learning curve. The new version provides advanced scripting possibilities. 
 
 

Publications

[News in diagnostic and treatment of complex regional pain syndrome]

Berquin A. Rev Med Suisse (2008); 4(162):1514-6, 1518-9.

Born to dance but beat deaf: a new form of congenital amusia.

Phillips-Silver J, Toiviainen P, Gosselin N, Piché O, Nozaradan S, Palmer C, Peretz I. Neuropsychologia (2011); 49(5): 961-969

The role of spatial attention in attentional control over pain: an experimental investigation.

Van Ryckeghem D, Van Damme S, Crombez G, Eccleston C, Verhoeven K, Legrain V. Exp Brain Res (2011); 208(2): 269-275. [PDF]

Is distraction from pain influenced by executive functioning abilities? An experimental investigation of task switching and inhibition

Verhoeven K, Van Damme S, Eccleston C, Van Ryckeghem D, Legrain V,
Crombez G. Eur J Pain (2011) 208(2): 269-75.

Where is my pain?

Legrain V. Pain (2011); 152(3): 467-8. [PDF]

Controlling attention to nociceptive stimuli with working memory

Legrain V, Crombez G, Mouraux A. PLoS ONE (2011) 6(6): e20926. [PDF]

The role of working memory in the attentional control of pain.

 Legrain V, Crombez G, Verhoeven K, Mouraux A. Pain (2011); 152(2): 453-9. [PDF]

The Pain Matrix Reloaded. A Salience Detection System for the Body

Legrain V, Iannetti GD, Plaghki L, Mouraux A. Prog Neurobiol (2011) 93(1); 111-124. [PDF]

A multisensory investigation of the functional significance of the "pain matrix"

Mouraux A, Diukova A, Lee MC, Wise RG, Iannetti GD. Neuroimage (2011); 54(3):2237-49. [PDF]

Keeping pain in mind: a motivational account of attention to pain.

Van Damme S, Legrain V, Vogt J, Crombez G. Neurosci Biobehav Rev (2010);34(2):204-213. 

The time course of CO2 laser-evoked responses and of skin nerve fibre markers after topical capsaicin in human volunteers.

Ragé M, Van Acker N, Facer P, Shenoy R, Knaapen MW, Timmers M, Streffer J, Anand P, Meert T, Plaghki L. Clin Neurophysiol (2010) 121(8):1256-66. [PDF]

The fine tuning of pain thresholds: a sophisticated double alarm system.

 Plaghki L, Decruynaere C, Van Dooren P, Le Bars D. PLoS One (2010) 5(4):e10269. [PDF]

Low intensity intra-epidermal electrical stimulation can activate Aδ-nociceptors selectively

Mouraux A, Iannetti GD, Plaghki L. Pain (2010) 150 (1):199-207. [PDF]

From the Neuromatrix to the Pain Matrix (and back)

Iannetti GD, Mouraux A. Exp Brain Res (2010) 205(1):1-12. [PDF]

Stimulus novelty and not neural refractoriness explains the repetition suppression of laser-evoked potentials (LEPs)

Wang AL, Mouraux A, Liang M, Iannetti GD. J Neurophysiol (2010) 104(4):2116-24. [PDF]

Tactile roughness discrimination threshold is unrelated to tactile spatial acuity.

Libouton X, Barbier O, Plaghki L, Thonnard JL. Behav Brain Res (2010); 208(2): 473-478.

Functional characterisation of sensory ERPs using probabilistic ICA: effect of stimulus modality and stimulus location.

Liang M, Mouraux A, Chan V, Blakemore C, Iannetti GD. Clin Neurophysiol (2010) 121(4):577-87. [PDF]

Increased olfactory bulb volume and olfactory function in early blind subjects

Rombaux P, Huart C, De Volder AG, Cuevas I, Renier L, Duprez T, Grandin C. Neuroreport (2010); 21(17): 1067-1073. [PDF]

Presence of olfactory event-related potentials predicts recovery in patients with olfactory loss following upper respiratory tract infection.

Rombaux P, Huart C, Collet S, Eloy P, Negoias S, Hummel T. Laryngoscope (2010); 120(10): 2115-2118. [PDF]

Clinical, functional and structural determinants of central pain in syringomyelia

Hatem SM, Attal N, Ducreux D, Gautron M, Parker F, Plaghki L, Bouhassira D. Brain (2010); 133(11):3409-22. [PDF]

An adaptive procedure for routine measurement of light-touch sensitivity threshold

 Berquin AD, Lijesevic V, Blond S, Plaghki L. Muscle Nerve (2010); 42(3):328-38. [PDF]

Why become more general when we can be more specific?

Van Damme S, Crombez G, Wiech K, Legrain V, Peters ML, Eccleston C.  Pain 2009;144(3):342-343. Comment on Hollins et al. "Perceived intensity and unpleasantness of cutaneous and auditory stimuli: an evaluation of the generalized hypervigilance hypothesis" [Pain 2009;141:215-221], and on Rollman "Perspectives on hypervigilance" [Pain 2009;141:183-184]. author reply 343-344. 

Long term clinical outcome of peripheral nerve stimulation in patients with chronic peripheral neuropathic pain.

Van Calenbergh F, Gybels J, Van Laere K, Dupont P, Plaghki L, Depreitere B, Kupers R. Surg Neurol 2009;72(4):330-335; discussion 335.

Usefulness and feasibility of psychophysical and electrophysiological olfactory testing in the rhinology clinic.

Rombaux P, Mouraux A, Collet S, Eloy P, Bertrand B. Rhinology 2009;47(1):28-35. 

Are there nociceptive-specific brain potentials?

Mouraux A, Plaghki L, Iannetti GD. J Neurophysiol 2009;102(5):3075-3076 

Nociceptive laser-evoked brain potentials do not reflect nociceptive-specific neural activity.

Mouraux A, Iannetti GD. J Neurophysiol 2009;101(6):3258-3269. [PDF]

A neurocognitive model of attention to pain: behavioral and neuroimaging evidence.

Legrain V, Van Damme S, Eccleston C, Davis KD, Seminowicz DA, Crombez G. Pain 2009;144:230-232. [PDF]

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