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Human Pain Seminar Series

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This series was borne out of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, which posed significant challenges to the pain community. Its purpose was to reinforce the message that the we—those who do human pain research—are part of a community.


I put together the #WeAreAllInThisTogether COVID-19 Journal Club. It's an opportunity to connect, to remain intellectually stimulated, to learn, and to keep up with the literature. 

It has evolved into a Seminar Series that highlights the work of our community, and allows members of the community at any stage of their career engage with the speakers.


We are supported by the University of Toronto Centre for the Study of Pain.

We meet over Zoom every so often - about every 3 weeks. The specifics, papers, and link to the Zoom will be posted here.


We look forward to seeing you all.


Wednesday, February 15 - 11:00 am EST


Title: Dissociation between individual differences in self-reported pain intensity and underlying fMRI brain activation


Presented by: Dr. Robert C. Coghill, Senior Scientist & Director of Research Department of Anesthesiology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Cincinnati, Ohio, USA


Abstract: Pain is an individual experience. Previous studies have highlighted changes in brain activation and morphology associated with within- and interindividual pain perception. In this study we sought to characterize brain mechanisms associated with between-individual differences in pain in a sample of healthy adolescent and adult participants (N = 101). Here we show that pain ratings varied widely across individuals and that individuals reported changes in pain evoked by small differences in stimulus intensity in a manner congruent with their pain sensitivity, further supporting the utility of subjective reporting as a measure of the true individual experience. Furthermore, brain activation related to interindividual differences in pain was not detected, despite clear sensitivity of the Blood Oxygenation Level-Dependent (BOLD) signal to small differences in noxious stimulus intensities within individuals. These findings suggest fMRI may not be a useful objective measure to infer reported pain intensity.

Corresponding Paper:


Zoom Link:

Meeting ID: 865 6902 9734
Passcode: difference



Title: Flexible sensory-motor mapping rules manifest in correlated variability of stimulus and action codes across the brain


Presented by: Dr. Ruud L. van den Brink, Computational Cognitive Neuroscience Section, Department of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany


Abstract: Humans and non-human primates can flexibly switch between different arbitrary mappings from sensation to action to solve a cognitive task. It has remained unknown how the brain implements such flexible sensorymotor mapping rules. Here, we uncovered a dynamic reconfiguration of task-specific correlated variability between sensory and motor brain regions. Human participants switched between two rules for reporting visual orientation judgments during fMRI recordings. Rule switches were either signaled explicitly or inferred by the participants from ambiguous cues. We used behavioral modeling to reconstruct the time course of their belief about the active rule. In both contexts, the patterns of correlations between ongoing fluctuations in stimulus- and action-selective activity across visual- and action-related brain regions tracked participants’ belief about the active rule. The rule-specific correlation patterns broke down around the time of behavioral errors. We conclude that internal beliefs about task state are instantiated in brain-wide, selective patterns of correlated variability.

Corresponding Paper:


Zoom Link: TBD

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