Igor Iarrobino

PhD student

Aspirant FNRS

Promoter : Prof. Valéry Legrain

 

How does the brain compute the origin of pain on the body space?

The spatiotopic representation considers the relative position of the body part on which the stimulus is applied, and, therefore, uses external space as reference frame. Demonstrating the brain’s ability to map nociceptive inputs according to a spatiotopic representation will provide evidence for the exteroceptive function of nociception, whose role would be to optimize detection of physical threats and protect the body. The goal of the present project is to characterize the time course of the neural processes underlying the spatial mapping of somatosensory inputs in the human brain using electroencephalography.

Arnaud Steyaert

PhD student and anaesthesiologist at the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc

(FRC).

Promoter : Prof. A. Mouraux

Control of acute as well as prevention of chronic postoperative pain remains a challenge. In human volunteers, both transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcutaneous spinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) alter pain perception and its modulation. tDCS may also reduce opioid consumption and pain scores after surgery. As tDCS and tsDCS affect pain processing at different levels, their combined application could produce additive or synergistic effects.  The objective of my PhD is to characterize the effects of combined tDCS and tsDCS on acute pain perception and processing (temporal summation, conditioned pain modulation, experimentally induced central sensitization) in healthy volunteers.

Arthur Courtin

PhD student

(FSR).

Promoter : Prof. A. Mouraux

The first objective of my PhD is to characterize, in humans, the different afferent fiber populations and transient receptor potential (TRP) channels responsible for the ability to perceive innocuous and noxious cold. The second objective of my PhD is to demonstrate the clinical usefulness of recording cool-evoked brain potentials (CEPs) to assess the function and integrity of the thermonociceptive system. This will be achieved by conducting, in parallel, four complementary studies.

Louisien Lebrun

PhD student

(IMI PAIN-CARE, subtopic BIOPAIN).

Promoter : Prof. A. Mouraux

MD, training in neurology, I am conducting a PhD in the framework of an Innovative Medicines Initiative project (IMI PAIN-CARE; https://www.imi-paincare.eu), subtopic BioPain. The aim of this subtopic is to identify and validate a number of functional biomarkers based on non-invasive measures of neural activity (peripheral measures of nerve excitability, spinal and brainstem reflexes, measures of brain activity using electroencephalography [EEG] and functional magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] that can be used in humans to assess the effects of a given drug on the nociceptive system. If successful, these biomarkers would be used in future studies for the early stages of the pharmacological development of novel treatments for pain, and back-translated to animal models.

Alex Stouffs

PhD student

(IMI PAIN-CARE, subtopic BIOPAIN).

Promoter : Prof. A. Mouraux

MD, finalising my training in anaesthesiology, I am conducting a PhD in the framework of an Innovative Medicines Initiative project (IMI PAIN-CARE; https://www.imi-paincare.eu), subtopic BioPain. The aim of this subtopic is to identify and validate a number of functional biomarkers based on non-invasive measures of neural activity (peripheral measures of nerve excitability, spinal and brainstem reflexes, measures of brain activity using electroencephalography [EEG] and functional magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] that can be used in humans to assess the effects of a given drug on the nociceptive system. If successful, these biomarkers would be used in future studies for the early stages of the pharmacological development of novel treatments for pain, and back-translated to animal models.

Dominika Sulcova

PhD student

(ARC GABA-AD and SAO-FRA).

Promoter : Prof. A. Mouraux; Co-promoter : Prof. Adrian Ivanoiu

 

Studies have suggested that Alzheimer's disease (AD) is related to changes in brain function that are present already at very early, pre-clinical stages of the disease. For example, recent functional neuroimaging studies have shown early alterations in brain connectivity, and that these alterations are most prominent in highly-connected cortical "hub areas". These hub areas are also those that are most affected by AD lesions. These findings support the view that AD pathology could, at least in part, result from an activity-dependent degeneration. Initial excessive neural firing in hub areas due to increased excitability or connectivity could lead to later neurodegeneration and disruption of connectivity. Very recently, studies conducted by Prof. JN Octave (UCL) have suggested that AD could be related to a decrease in the expression of the cellular Cl- ion extruder KCC2, leading to an increase in intracellular Cl- and, thereby, an inhibitory-to-excitatory shift of GABAA receptor activity. The aim of the present study is to test whether GABAergic neurotransmission is altered at early pre-clinical and pre-demential stages of AD as compared to matched healthy controls.

  

Dounia Mulders

PhD student

(FNRS aspirant).

Promoters : Profs. M. Verleysen & A. Mouraux

 

My research aims to characterize the human brain networks involved in the processing of nociceptive inputs, and to highlight to which extent the development of a chronic pain state could be related to some changes in these networks. To this end, novel signal processing tools and machine learning techniques will be designed, in order to analyze scalp and intracerebral EEG recordings. 

Louise Manfron

PhD student

(FSR project).

Promoter : Prof. V. Legrain

 

Assessing the efficiency of an analgesic treatment requires to measure pain and the integrity of the neural system mediating pain perception, i.e. the nociceptive system. However, the interpretation of these measurements often relies on the idea that the response of a patient to a nociceptive stimulus is only determined by the properties of this stimulus. I wish to challenge this idea by suggesting that the ability to perceive the ocurence of a nociceptive stimulus and to perceived it as painful depends on the integration of sensory inputs from the different sensory modalities, including non-somatic stimuli such as visual stimuli. I propose to demonstrate this hypothesis using an original a​pproach combining cognitive psychology methods and psychophysics of the nociceptive system.

Nicolas Lejeune

PhD student

(FNRS : clinicien chercheur doctorant).

Promoter : Prof. A. Mouraux; Co-promoter : Prof. Steven Laureys (ULG)

 

As a neurorehabilitation clinician, I am in charge of a care unit for patients with prolonged disorder of consciousness (i.e. patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome or in minimally conscious state). The aim of my research project is to understand how these severely brain injured patients are able to perceive pain using non-invasive methods such as surface EEG recordings. These investigations should also be of interest to develop a novel approach to study the relationship between pain perception and consciousness.

Camille Vanderclausen

PhD student

(Aspirant FNRS).

Promoter : Prof. V. Legrain

 

My research project aims to investigate how visual experience influences the perception of nociceptive stimuli and pain. More specifically, I compare the cognitive abilities of people with congenital blindness and those of normal sighted people to localize nociceptive stimuli on the body space.

Maxime Algoet

PhD student

(ERC starting grant PROBING-PAIN).

Promoter : Prof. A. Mouraux

 

The general objective of my PhD project is to develop novel noninvasive means to characterize activity-dependent changes in brain function related to central sensitization and chronic pain. At the core of my project is the development of a novel approach based on the recording of TMS-evoked BOLD responses sampled using concurrent TMS-fMRI. As a first step, this will be used to characterize changes in cortical excitability and functional connectivity within different brain areas induced by a sustained experimental pain. Subsequently, this approach could be used to study changes in brain function related to chronic pain. In parallel, I am also interested in studying the changes in motor excitability induced by an experimental pain. I combined TMS of the primary motor cortex with, respectively, brief and sustained nociceptive stimulation to characterize the spinal and supraspinal pain-motor interactions triggered by noxious stimulation.

Julien Lambert

PhD student

(ERC starting grant PROBING-PAIN).

Promoter : Prof. A. Mouraux; Co-promoter : Prof. C. Craeye

 

After three years as the head of the technical support team within the Cognitive and System Department of the Institute of Neuroscience of the UCL, I started a PhD. The general objective of my research is to develop a novel approach based on transcranial focused ultrasound (TFUS) and on the combination of TFUS with electroencephalography (EEG) to characterize and to investigate the interdependencies between the different brain regions involved in human pain perception. 

Baptiste Chemin

PhD student

(FRIA).

Promoter : Prof. A. Mouraux; Co-promoter : Prof. Isabel Peretz (UdeM)

 

The goal of my project is to develop an original non-invasive approach to characterise Parkinson’s Disease (PD)-related changes in brain network dynamics. It will exploit a recent electroencephalographic (EEG) approach to investigate the large sensorimotor network underlying our ability to perceive and produce musical rhythms. PD patients show strongly impaired abilities for rhythm perception, rhythm production and beat prediction. This can be explained by the fact that the basal ganglia - a key hub of this network - are critically affected in PD. Characterizing these functional changes could constitute a unique mean to directly measure the consequences of a hub dysfunction on neural network in patients, and the modulation induced by neurorehabilitation strategies such as gait auditory cueing. 

Charlotte Verfaille

PhD student

(aspirant FNRS).

Promoter : Prof. V. Legrain

My research project aims to investigate how pain affects cognitive abilities to perceive and act in external space. More specifically, using robotic technology and virtual reality, these abilities will be investigated in chronic pain patients.

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Institute of Neuroscience (IONS) - Université catholique de Louvain (UCL)

NOCIONS : PAIN RESEARCH AT UCLOUVAIN