Pain research at UCLouvain

Institute of Neuroscience (IONS)

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.

Recent publications

Pharmacological Probes to Validate Biomarkers for Analgesic Drug Development

Int J Mol Sci


van Niel J, Bloms-Funke P, Caspani O, Cendros JM, Garcia-Larrea L, Truini A, Tracey I, Chapman SC, Marco-Ariño N, Troconiz IF, Phillips K, Finnerup NB, Mouraux A* and Treede RD

IMI2-PainCare-BioPain-RCT1: study protocol for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover, multi-center trial in healthy subjects to investigate the effects of lacosamide, pregabalin, and tapentadol on biomarkers of pain processing observed by peripheral nerve excitability testing (NET).



Nochi Z, Pia H, Bloms-Funke P, Boesl I, Caspani O, Chapman SC, Fardo F, Genser B, Goetz M, Kostenko AV, Leone C, Li T, Mouraux A, Pelz B, Pogatzki-Zahn E, Schilder A, Schnetter E, Schubart K, Stouffs A, Tracey I, Troconiz IF, Truini A, Van Niel J, Vela JM, Vincent K, Vollert J, Wanigasekera V, Wittayer M, Tankisi H, Finnerup NB, Phillips KG, Treede RD.

The N13 spinal component of somatosensory evoked potentials is modulated by heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulation suggesting an involvement of spinal wide dynamic range neurons

Neurophysiol Clin


Di Pietro G, Di Stefano G, Leone C, Di Lionardo A, Sgrò E, Blockeel AJ, Caspani O, Garcia-Larrea L, Mouraux A, Phillips KG, Treede RD, Valeriani M, Truini A.

How different experimental models of secondary hyperalgesia change the nociceptive flexion reflex.

Clin Neurophysiol


Leone C, Di Lionardo A, Di Pietro G, Di Stefano G, Falco P, Blockeel AJ, Caspani O, Garcia-Larrea L, Mouraux A, Phillips KG, Treede RD, Truini A.

Multichannel transcranial direct current stimulation over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex may modulate the induction of secondary hyperalgesia, a double-blinded cross-over study in healthy volunteers.

PLoS One


Steyaert A, Lenoir C, Lavand'homme P, van den Broeke EN, Mouraux A.

Towards optimizing the non-invasive sensory feedback interfaces in a neural prosthetic control

J Neural Eng


Su S, Chai G, Meng J, Sheng X, Mouraux A, Zhu X.

Modulation of the N13 component of the somatosensory evoked potentials in an experimental model of central sensitization in humans

Scientific Reports


Di Lionardo A, Di Stefano G, Leone C, Di Pietro G, Sgro E, Malara E, Cosentino C, Mollica C, Blockeel AJ, Caspani O, Garcia-Larrea L, Mouraux A, Treede RD, Phillips KG, Valeriani M, Truini A.

High-frequency electrical stimulation of cutaneous nociceptors differentially affects pain perception elicited by homotopic and heterotopic electrical stimuli

J Neurophysiol


van den Broeke EN, Urdi M, Mouraux A, Biurrun Manresa J, Torta DM

Evidence for alterations to dynamic quantitative sensory tests in patients with chronic temporomandibular myalgia: A systematic review of observational studies with meta-analysis

J Oral Rehabil


Cayrol T, Meeus M, Aron V, Gatto C, Mouraux A, Roussel NA, Sallaz L, van den Broeke EN, Pitance L.

Combining topical agonists with the recording of event-related brain potentials to probe the functional involvement of TRPM8, TRPA1 and TRPV1 in heat and cold transduction in the human skin

J Pain


Courtin AS, Mouraux A

Vagus Nerve Stimulation elicits sleep EEG desynchronization and network changes in responder patients in epilepsy



Vespa S, Heyse J, Stumpp L, Liberati G, Ferrao Santos S, Rooijakkers H, Nonclercq A, Mouraux A, van Mierlo P, El Tahry R.

IMI2-PainCare-BioPain-RCT3: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover, multi-center trial in healthy subjects to investigate the effects of lacosamide, pregabalin, and tapentadol on biomarkers of pain processing observed by electroencephalography (EEG).



Mouraux A, Bloms-Funke P, Boesl I, Caspani O, Chapman SC, Di Stefano G, Finnerup NB, Garcia-Larrea L, Goetz M, Kostenko A, Pelz B, Pogatzki-Zahn E, Schubart K, Stouffs A, Truini A, Tracey I, Troconiz IF, Van Niel J, Vela JM, Vincent K, Vollert J, Wanigasekera V, Wittayer M, Phillips KG, Treede RD.

Neuroscience research pain research EEG postoperative pain sensitization spinal cord neuroinflammation TMS EEG laser-evoked potentials research neuropathic

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.

Research group led by André Mouraux (IONS/COSY)

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 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 group led by Valéry Legrain (IONS/COSY)

The main research interest of the team led by Valery Legrain 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 group led by Giulia Liberati (IONS/COSY)

The group of Giulia Liberati aims to characterize how transient and sustained pain are represented in the human brain, taking advantage of the high temporal and spatial resolution of intracerebral electroencephalography (iEEG). She is particularly interested in investigating the role of the human insula in nociception and pain perception, as several findings suggest that this brain region plays a crucial role in the integration of sensory, affective, and cognitive dimensions of pain.

Research team led by Emmanuel Hermans (IONS/CEMO)

The research group of Prof. Emmanuel Hermans 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.


Institute of Neuroscience (IoNS)

53 Avenue Mounier, B1200, Brussels, Belgium

+32(0)2 764 54 47

IONS logo.png
ERC logo.png
FNRS logo.png