Identifying when infants are in pain is challenging as they cannot tell us their experiences. We investigate how the brain responds to noxious stimuli to find better ways to measure and treat infant pain.
Pain in infancy has negative long-term consequences and its prevention is a clinical priority, but adequate treatment requires mechanistic understanding of the structural and functional development of human nociceptive circuitry.
We aim to understand the mechanisms that drive and modulate pain perception in early human development. Recent scientific advances provide insights into how noxious information is transmitted to the infant brain, providing a platform to ask how intrinsic brain network connectivity and the environment affect noxious-evoked brain activity, behaviour and ultimately pain perception in the developing infant nervous system.
We are investigating whether inherent differences in how the brain behaves at rest influence variability in noxious-evoked activity, and will determine how this relationship is altered by environmental factors and pathology. We want to understand how the development of structural and functional network connectivity alters noxious-evoked brain activity, and influences the dynamic relationship between brain activity and behaviour.
The overarching goal is that this developmental understanding will translate into the improved treatment of infant pain in premature and term-born infants.
This work is funded by Wellcome.