Associated Projects in the Second Funding Period (2019-2023):

1. Functional modeling to characterize neural excitability changes in pain models

Dr. Rebecca Mease (Project B10)
Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

Quantifying how neurons transform synaptic input into output spikes under different intrinsic and extrinsic conditions is a key task in understanding computation within the nervous system. Functional modeling approaches such as the Generalized Linear Modeling (GLM) framework and Linear-Nonlinear (LN) model have provided a powerful framework for understanding information processing by single neurons and networks. In essence, functional modeling approaches identify neural computations without making assumptions about the underlying mechanisms--e.g. synaptic connectivity or ion channels. While functional modeling approaches have been applied widely across sensory systems, these methods have yet to be used to characterize neural excitability in pain.

The goal of this proposed associated project is to integrate the GLM and LN approaches into a common computational resource for the SFB 1158 community to use to better understand single neuron and circuit-level changes associated with pain. By developing this tool, we aim to make the descriptive and predictive advantages of these approaches accessible to SFB members and also support future comparison and pooling of scientific results across studies within a common analysis framework.


2. Spectral fingerprints of sleep deprivation induced hyperalgesia

Prof. Dr. med. Sigrid Schuh-Hofer and Dr. Dr. med. Randolph Helfrich
Department of Neurology and Epileptology, Hertie Insitute for Clinical Brain Research, University Medical Center Tübingen,Tübingen, Germany

The aim of this project is to identify cortical signatures and networks which may underly the adverse effects of poor sleep on pain. According to experimental and clinical studies, disturbed sleep is able to aggravate spontaneous pain and to induce hyperalgesia. The interaction of poor sleep and pain is of high clinical significance, since the majority (up to 80%) of pain patients suffers from disturbed sleep. This project explores the impact of sleep deprivation (SD) on pain-related cortical networks by analyzing resting-state EEG’s and pain-evoked potentials, recorded after a night of SD and a night of habitual sleep (HS). We will test the hypothesis of a SD-induced shift of cortical excitability towards hyperexcitability and its significance for SD-induced pain hypersensitivity. Respecting the significant role of mood and attention for pain perception, the project will also focus on the impact of sleep deprivation on oscillatory networks involved in attention and the emotional evaluation of pain. Altogether, our EEG-network analyses may help to unravel pathologic top-down effects of sleep deprivation on the perception of pain.

Sleep deprivation Schuh Hofer

To assess the impact of SD on brain excitability, we will use a method by which the ratio of excitation and inhibition (E:I-ratio) can be estimated from the power law exponent (slope) of the electrophysiological power spectrum (Gao et al., 2017). The opposite figure shows preliminary results from EEG’s, recorded after a night of HS and after SD. Left: Exponent (PSD slope) topography of healthy subjects after HS. Right: Compared to HS, SD shifts the exponent closer to 0, reflecting a shift of the E:I ratio towards increased excitability. We predict that this shift will correlate, at the individual level, with the increased pain perception of laser stimuli.


3. Neurophysiological Biomarkers in Neurosurgical Pain Therapy

PD Dr. med. Rezvan Ahmadi1, Dr. med. Mehdi Hajiabadi2 and Dr. med. Britta Kretzschmar2
1 Division of Neurosurgical Pain Management, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
2 Neurosurgery Clinic, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany


Associated Project Rezvan Ahmadi


  • New collaborative research results

    Published in Science


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  • ERC Synergy Grant 2022

    Congratulations to Prof. Dr. Valery Grinevich!


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  • New paper published in Nature

    Collaboration involving Projects A01, A03, B01, B06 and B08.


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  • Pain Summer School

    "Chronic Pain and its affective consequences"


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  • International Satellite Symposium, "Neural Circuits of Pain - IV"

    Registration deadline extended to 5 April 2022!


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