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

Physiologie, exploration et troubles de l'olfaction

Huart C, Mouraux A, Rombaux P. In : EMC en oto-rhinolaryngologie. (EMC, Ed.). Les traités EMC. Elsevier-Masson. 2016.

EEG frequency tagging to explore the cortical activity related to the tactile exploration of natural textures

Moungou A, Thonnard JL, Mouraux A. Nature : Nature : Scientific Reports (2016); 6:20738. [PDF]

Exploration fonctionnelle et troubles du gout

Huart C, Mouraux A, Rombaux P. In : EMC en oto-rhinolaryngologie. (EMC, Ed.). Les traités EMC. Elsevier-Masson. 2016.

Peripheral vs. central determinants of vibrotactile adaptation

Klocker A, Gueorguiev D, Thonnard JL, Mouraux A. J Neurophysiol (2015); 115(2):685-91. [PDF].

A novel method using EEG to characterize the cortical processes involved in active and passive touch

Moungou A, Thonnard JL, Mouraux A. IEEE Haptics Symposium (2016); IEEE - Haptic Symposium 2016, Apr 2016, Philadelphia, United States. [PDF]

The rostral ventro-medial medulla (RVM) control of cutaneous vasomotion of paws and tail in the rat. Implication for pain studies

El Bitar N, Pollin B, Huang G, Mouraux A, Le Bars D. J Neurophysiol (2015); 115: 773-789. [PDF]

Watching what's coming near increases tactile sensitivity: an experimental investigation

Van der Biest L, Legrain V, De Paepe A, Crombez G. Behav Brain Res (2015); 297:307-14. [PDF]

Characterizing pinprick evoked brain potentials before and after experimentally-induced secondary hyperalgesia

van den Broeke E, Mouraux A, Groneberg A, Pfau D, Treede RD, Klein T. J Neurophysiol (2015); 114(5):2672-81. [PDF]

The effect of heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulation on Ad-, C- and Ab-fiber brain responses in humans.

Torta DM, Churyukanov M, Plaghki L, Mouraux A. Eur J Neurosci (2015); 42(9):2707-15. [PDF]

Using EEG (SS-EPs) to characterize the brain activity in response to textured stimuli in passive touch

Moungou A, Thonnard JL, Mouraux A. IEEE World Haptics Conference (2015); 7177700: 113-118. 

From a somatotopic to a spatiotopic frame of reference for the localization of nociceptive stimuli

De Paepe AL, Crombez G, Legrain V. PLoS ONE. (2015) 10(8):e0137120. [PDF]

Evoked potentials in relation to pain perception

Mouraux A, Iannetti GD, Baumgartner U, Treede RD. In: The brain adapting with pain: Contribution of neuroimaging technology to pain mechanisms. Apkarian AV (Ed). IASP Press, (2015)

The ‘pain matrix’: myths and (unpleasant) truths.

Iannetti GD, Mouraux A. In: The brain adapting with pain: Contribution of neuroimaging technology to pain mechanisms. Apkarian AV (Ed). IASP Press, (2015). 

Electrophysiological techniques to study the supraspinal responses to nociceptive input in humans

Mouraux A. In : Pain persistence after surgery and altered central processing: science and clinical practice. Wilder-Smith OHG, Arendt-Nielsen L, Yarnitski D and Vissers K (Eds). IASP Press, (2015).

Use of prism adaptation in children with unilateral brain lesion: is it feasible?

Riquelme I, Henne C, Flament B, Legrain V, Bleyenheuft Y, Hatem S. Use of prism adaptation in children with unilateral brain lesion: is it feasible? Research in Developmental Disabilities (2015); 43-44:61-71. [PDF]

Clinical evidence for dorsal root ganglion stimulation in the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain. A review.

Forget P, Boyer T, Steyaert A, Masquelier E, Deumens R, Le Polain de Waroux B. Acta Anaesthesiol Belg (2015); 66(2):37-41.

Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Progenitors Assist Functional Sensory Axon Regeneration after Dorsal Root Avulsion Injury

Hoeber J, Trolle C, Konig N, Du Z, Gallo A, Hermans E, Aldskogius H, Shortland P, Zhang SC, Deumens R, Kozlova EN. Sci Rep. (2015); 5:10666.

Inhibition of the regulator of G protein signalling RGS4 in the spinal cord decreases neuropathic hyperalgesia and restores cannabinoid CB1 receptor signalling

Bosier B, Doyen PJ, Brolet A, Muccioli GG, Ahmed E, Desmet N, Hermans E, Deumens R. Br J Pharmacol (2015); 72(22):5333-46.

Unirhinal olfactory testing for the diagnostic workup of mild cognitive impairment

Huart C, Rombaux P, Gérard T, Hanseeuw B, Lhommel R, Quenon L, Ivanoiu A, Mouraux A. J Alzheimers Dis (2015); 47(1): 253-270. [PDF]

Cognitive psychology and neuropsychology of nociception and pain.

Legrain V, Torta DM. (2015) In: Pickering G., Gibson S. (Eds). Pain, Emotion and Cognition: a Complex Nexus (pp. 3-20). Cham: Springer. [PDF]

Prisms for pain. Can visuo-motor rehabilitation strategies alleviate chronic pain?

Torta DM, Legrain V, Rossetti Y, Mouraux A. Eur J Pain (2015); 20(1):64-9. [PDF]

Volume of olfactory bulb and depth of olfactory sulcus in 378 consecutive patients with olfactory loss

Hummel T, Urbig A, Huart C, Duprez T, Rombaux P. J Neurol (2015); 262(4):1046-51. [PDF]

The anti-inflammatory peptide stearyl-norleucine-VIP delays disease onset and extends survival in a rat model of inherited amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Goursaud S, Schäfer S, Dumont AO, Vergouts M, Gallo A, Desmet N, Deumens R, Hermans E. Exp Neurol (2015); 263:91-101

Multiple linear regression to estimate time-frequency electrophysiological responses in single trials

Hu L, Zhang ZG, Mouraux A, Iannetti GD. Neuroimage (2015); 111:442-53. [PDF]

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