I joined the group for my PhD within the framework of the MSCA-ITN H2020 project called MULTITOUCH. The broad objective of my PhD is to study how the human brain integrates the multisensory information while actively touching a haptic interface. More specifically, I will investigate if the tactile motion signals generated from active touch are decoded by somatotopic coordinates or an external (visual) frame of reference. So, EEG and fMRI experiments will be conducted to explore the integration of visual and tactile motion signals in healthy as well as blind individuals. A further attempt will be made to build a model that optimally integrates the sensory signals in conditions of active touch.

Promoter :

André Mouraux

Iqra Shahzad

Touch is a dynamic process: when we explore a surface, sensory input is generated by a number of different sources, including both somatosensory and proprioceptive inputs. My PhD is part of the EU H2020-ITN ‘’MULTITOUCH’’. The aim of my project will be to investigate how stimuli from different sensory modalities (vision, audition) are integrated with tactile feedback under conditions of active, dynamic touch. In order to investigate the neural underpinnings of multisensory integration during haptic exploration, we will use a combination of psychophysical and electroencephalography (EEG) experiments. In collaboration with the other MULTITOUCH partner institutions, this knowledge will be then applied to inform the development of next-generation human-computer interfaces (HCIs), such as multisensory tactile displays, and multisensory virtual reality setups.

Promoter :

André Mouraux

Giulia Esposito

The objective of my PhD is to evaluate whether pre-operative composition of the intestinal microbiota and/or post-operative changes in microbiota composition influence the intensity of acute PSP and the risk to develop persistent PSP in patients undergoing non-abdominal surgery. Specifically, we hypothesize that composition of the intestinal microbiota could be an important factor influencing the susceptibility to develop peripheral and/or central sensitization and, hence, that pre-operative composition of the intestinal microbiota and/or post-operative changes in its composition could be an important determinant of the severity of acute PSP and the risk to develop persistent PSP.

Promoter :

André Mouraux

Gwenaëlle Mievis

The aims of my research project are (1) to evaluate whether olfactory impairment is a reliable predictor of perioperative morbidity and mortality and (2) to identify the potential underlying mechanisms, notably through the links between olfaction, cognition and brain plasticity using olfactory training.

Promoter :

Caroline Huart

Victoria Van Regemorter

Within the H2020 QSPainRelief project, we will conduct a clinical study in patients suffering from disabling post-operative to assess the different effects of combinatorial treatments on the central nervous system using EEG and other non-invasive electrophysiological techniques and relate these effects to real-life clinical efficacy and safety. The data generated by this clinical study will be used to calibrate a model to predict response to combinatorial treatments for pain.

Promoter :

André Mouraux

Solenn Gousset

Within the H2020 QSPainRelief project, we will conduct a clinical study in patients suffering from disabling post-operative to assess the different effects of combinatorial treatments on the central nervous system using EEG and other non-invasive electrophysiological techniques and relate these effects to real-life clinical efficacy and safety. The data generated by this clinical study will be used to calibrate a model to predict response to combinatorial treatments for pain.

Promoter :

André Mouraux

Carlo Matej RInaudo

Sensitization is a process that consists in amplifying the response to pain consecutive to the repetition of the noxious stimulation. Sensitization is thought to play a role in the development of chronic pain. On the other side, psychological factors are known to modulate the experience of pain and are also suggested to play a role in the development and the maintenance of chronic pain. It is therefore hypothesized that cognitive factors such as attention could influence the risk of chronic pain by modulating the strength and the extent of sensitization. My project aims at observing in healthy volunteers the impact of attention on a lab model of sensitization of the central nervous system consecutive to repeated experimentally-induced painful electrical stimuli.

Promoter :

Valéry Legrain

Delia Della Porta

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.

Promoter :

Valéry Legrain

Igor Iarrobino

My PhD is conducted in the framework of a large-scale Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI PAIN-CARE; https://www.imi-paincare.eu) project, 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.

Promoter :

André Mouraux

Alexandre Stouffs

My PhD is conducted in the framework of a large-scale Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI PAIN-CARE; https://www.imi-paincare.eu) project, 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.

Promoter :

André Mouraux

Louisien Lebrun

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.

Promoter :

André Mouraux

Arthur Courtin

Anaesthesiologist
Dept. of Anaesthesiology - Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc
PhD student - Supervisor: André Mouraux
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.

Promoter :

André Mouraux

Arnaud Steyaert

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.

Promoter :

André Mouraux

Dominika Sulcova

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.

Promoter :

Valéry Legrain

Louise Manfron

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.

Promoter :

André Mouraux

Julien Lambert

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

Promoter :

André Mouraux

Maxime Algoet

NOCIONS PhD students

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

NOCIONS : PAIN RESEARCH AT UCLOUVAIN