Gene-Culture Co-evolution, Cultural Evolution and Memetics

Gene-Culture Co-evolution, Cultural Evolution and Memetics

Gene-Culture Co-evolution, Cultural Evolution and Memetics


You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.

Field: Neuroscience<br />

OC-Members:<br />

Dr Gian Domenico Iannetti, University of Oxford<br />

Dr Josef Priller, Charité-Universitätsmedizin, Berlin<br />

Suggested speakers: Dr Richard G Wise, University of Cardiff (introductory speaker)<br />

Professor Irene M Tracey, University of Oxford<br />

Dr Walter Magerl, “Johannes Gutenberg” University, Mainz<br />

Neural basis of pain perception<br />

Pain is a conscious experience, an interpretation of the nociceptive input influenced by<br />

memories, emotional, cognitive <strong>and</strong> pathological factors. The behavioural response by a<br />

subject to a painful event is modified according to what is appropriate or possible in any<br />

particular situation. Pain is, therefore, a subjective experience as illustrated by the definition<br />

given by The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP): ‘‘An unpleasant sensory<br />

<strong>and</strong> emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in<br />

terms of such damage.’’<br />

Chronic pain (pain that persists or recurs for more than 3 months) is one of the largest medical<br />

health problems in the developed world, affecting about 20% of the adult population,<br />

particularly women <strong>and</strong> the elderly. Management <strong>and</strong> treatment of chronic pain is unmet,<br />

therefore chronic pain is a global problem creating an enormous emotional <strong>and</strong> financial<br />

burden to sufferers, carers <strong>and</strong> society in general. Innovative <strong>and</strong> frontier methods are needed<br />

if we are to combat this massive <strong>and</strong> growing problem.<br />

Until recently it has been difficult to obtain reliable objective information from healthy<br />

volunteers <strong>and</strong> patients regarding their subjective experience of pain. Since the introduction of<br />

functional neuroimaging methods, such as electroencephalography (EEG), functional<br />

magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) <strong>and</strong> positron emission tomography (PET) scientists have<br />

been able to show robust <strong>and</strong> reproducible activation in response to noxious stimuli within the<br />

human brain <strong>and</strong> spinal cord. This activation can be related to what the subject describes <strong>and</strong><br />

issues such as how anxiety, attention, distraction <strong>and</strong> anticipation alter pain perception better<br />

understood. In short, scientists are trying to unravel the workings of pain perception at a<br />

neuronal level.<br />

The combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging <strong>and</strong> electroencephalography in<br />

particular is ideal for such investigations in humans, as their temporal <strong>and</strong> spatial resolution<br />

enables sophisticated experimental designs to be developed that can determine the<br />

neuroanatomical substrate for these processes. Several experiments have specifically isolated<br />

areas of the cerebral cortex that are central to the processes involved in expecting pain, being<br />

anxious about pain <strong>and</strong> altering your attention to pain <strong>and</strong> where relevant these aspects of the<br />

pain experience have been related to clinical pain syndromes.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>rrelating specific neurophysiological markers to the perceptual changes induced by<br />

pharmacological agents <strong>and</strong> identifying their site of action within the human nervous system<br />

has also been a major goal for drug discovery. Recently, pharmacological functional magnetic<br />

resonance imaging (phMRI) <strong>and</strong> electroecephalography (phEEG) methods have been<br />

developed <strong>and</strong> applied to the field of pain research. phMRI <strong>and</strong> phEEG are methods that

combine FMRI <strong>and</strong> EEG with drug delivery to determine the site of drug action or the<br />

modulation by the drug on brain regions activated in response to either a sensory, motor or<br />

cognitive input. The completely non-invasive nature of FMRI <strong>and</strong> EEG enables longitudinal<br />

studies on healthy subjects <strong>and</strong> patients making it ideal for use in combination with<br />

pharmacological agents that might require multiple dosing across many imaging sessions or a<br />

serial collection of imaging data across time due to the pharmacokinetics of the drug.<br />

A session on the neural basis of pain perception may start with a general overview on the<br />

topic <strong>and</strong> the techniques used to investigate the problem. Dr Richard G Wise, a physicist as<br />

background <strong>and</strong> Associate Director of the fMRI laboratory at Cardiff University would be a<br />

perfect introductory speaker, because of his deep knowledge on the EEG <strong>and</strong> fMRI<br />

techniques <strong>and</strong> the confounding factors arising when they are used to investigate pain <strong>and</strong> its<br />

pharmacological modulation. The two main speakers might be Professor Irene Tracey,<br />

Director of the Oxford Centre for the Functional Magnetic Resonance of the Brain at Oxford<br />

University <strong>and</strong> Dr Walter Magerl, at the Institute of Physiology of the “Johannes Gutenberg”<br />

University, Mainz. They are both excellent young speakers with an outst<strong>and</strong>ing academic<br />

track in the field of neural basis of pain perception. Professor Tracey’s lecture would cover<br />

the exciting results obtained by using metabolic brain imaging techniques (fMRI <strong>and</strong> PET).<br />

Dr Magerl’s lecture would provide a perfect dovetail to this, by covering the results obtained<br />

by basic psychophysical <strong>and</strong> electrophysiological results in humans. The members of the<br />

Organising <strong>Co</strong>mmittee anticipate that all speakers will be able to trigger <strong>and</strong> maintain an<br />

interesting discussion at the end of their talks.

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!