My research project aimed to investigate how pain affects cognitive abilities to perceive and act in external space. More specifically, using robotic technology and virtual reality, these abilities were investigated in chronic pain patients.
My research project investigated the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying visual-nociceptive integration in the representation of the body and the peripersonal space. More specifically, I used steady state evoked potentials to explore how nociceptive stimulation affects the processing of external visual stimuli in order to form a meaningful multimodal representation of physical threats.
The general objective of my project was to characterize the effects of topical capsaicin treatment on the changes in function and structure of nociceptive pathways associated with the development of chronic neuropathic pain and/or central sensitization. The project was translational, from bench to bedside, combining work performed in an animal model of neuropathic pain and work performed in patients suffering from chronic post-operative pain.
Anne Klöcker performed a postdoctorate research fellow carried out in the framework of the NEUROSENSE project. The purpose of this CWALity project was to develop (i) a vibrotactile stimulator as well as (ii) an EMG system compatible with EEG, IRM and MEG. These devices will be used for non-invasive investigations of the human nervous system. Her role in the NEUROSENSE project was to intervene in the development and the validation process of both devices.
Anne Klöcker continued with a postdoc in the MSL-IN lab (IONS/COSY)
My main research interest is to understand how attention shapes the elaboration and perception of nociceptive and non-nociceptive inputs, both in healthy and in clinical populations. In 2013, Diana Torta joined the NOCIONS group at UCLouvain on an co-funded Marie Curie-Academie UCLouvain scholarship to explore human nociception and its modulation. In 2016, she obtained a Chargé de Recherche grant from the Fondation National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS) and a post-doc position at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at KULeuven. Using novel techniques based on electroecencephalography, the objective of her postdoctorate research fellowship was to characterize the role of vision and spatial attention on the elaboration of somatosensory stimuli, in particular, nociceptive somatosensory stimuli. In 2019, Diana Torta obtained an academic position at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at KULeuven.
The aim of this PhD project was be to develop a new approach to isolate and characterize the cortical activity elicited by the mechanical interactions between the contacting finger pad and tactile displays. Using such stimuli, we will use high-density electroencephalography (EEG) to sample, non-invasively, the cortical activity elicited by mechanotransduction of the finger pad interactions with the tactile displays. Specifically, I developped a new technique based on the recording of steady-state evoked potentials (SS-EPs) to study the cortical processes underlying the perception of complex fine-grained textures.
My PhD was conducted under the joint supervision of Profs. Jean-Louis Thonnard and André Mouraux. The objective of my PhD was to explore the involvement of high-level cognitive resources in the performance of a common manual behaviour. In everyday life, object manipulation is among the most common tasks we perform and is usually performed concurrently to the execution of cognitive tasks. In a recent study we show that mental resources are required for both the planning and the online control of upper-limb movement. By using a motor-cognitive dual-task paradigm, current studies will examine the influence of a cognitive task on the different aspects of precision grip in elders and in patients presenting with a peripheral or central lesion of the nervous system. Indeed, it could well be that with aging and/or following such a lesion, precision grip is even more dependent on cognitive resources.
The objective of this postdoc was to develop novel approaches to study the cortical representation of pain in the human brain, using novel techniques combining transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
The topic of my research is how musical rhythm entrains the human brain activity. With the help of Profs André Mouraux and Isabelle Peretz, my co-supervisor in Canada, I developed during my PhD an approach to capture the neural mechanisms of musical beat in humans. Currently, I explore this approach as a mean to investigate human neural mechanisms such as neural entrainment, sensorimotor synchronization and multisensory integration. To this aim, I use surface and intracerebral EEG, coupled with auditory/visual stimulations, and motion recordings. Also, this research gives rise to thoughts about how and why mixing art and science in research activities. Sylvie Nozaradan is now Professor at UCLouvain.
During her PhD, Elisabeth Colon developed a novel approach to study the cortical processes underlying pain perception in humans based on the recording of nociceptive steady-state evoked potentials (SS-EPs). The aim was to isolate cortical activity more preferentially involved in nociception. We showed that SS-EPs is useful to tag cortical activity related to the perception of sustained pain that possibly reflects nociceptive-specific stages of cortical processing. She then pursued her work as a postdoctorate researcher, with the aim of developing a new approach to study patients suffering from chronic pain with SS-EPs.
Elisabeth Colon continued with a postdoc in the lab of Prof. D. Borsook (Pain and Imaging Neuroscience - PAIN, Massachussets General Hospital). She now works at the Research Administration (ADRE) of UCLouvain.