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Chronic pain / Brain function

Chronic pain and depression are top causes of disability world-wide. They cause enormous suffering, and treatments work in less than half the patients. Brain function plays a critical role; pain and suffering are emergent properties of the brain’s functional complexity. Although pain is perceived in a cohesive manner, the neurophysiological ingredients that contribute to it are multifaceted and we lack objective measures that inform us of the neurophysiological “ingredients” driving pain in each individual patient.

The laboratory of Universitat de Barcelona focuses on understanding how the brain creates and maintains pain -and suffering- and how psychosocial and sensory influences modify brain activity to promote wellbeing. PENLab has identified brain markers of fibromyalgia, which accurately predict patient status and correlate with symptoms, and is working to identify common and separate brain-behavioral signatures of chronic pain and depression across the lifespan. They aim at disentangling the main “neurophysiological ingredients” driving pain/suffering for each patient with the vision that by knowing them we will be better positioned to recommend targeted treatment in each patient and discover new treatments targeting the mechanism.

Researcher/Institution: Dr Marina López-Solà, Director, Pain and Emotion Neuroscience Laboratory (PENLab), Unit of Psychological Medicine, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universitat de Barcelona