Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine - Barts and The London

Brain in Pain IV – The neurophysiology of chronic idiopathic pain (Bourke, White)

Centre for Psychiatry

Project Investigator:  Dr Julius Bourke


This study will employ a similar approach to that of the Brain in Pain III study but will include two additional centrally-sensitised illness groups – namely fibromyalgia and non-cardiac chest pain – as compared to healthy volunteer controls. Up to 20 participants will be recruited to each group, who will undergo quantitative sensory testing to assess for the presence of central sensitisation (non-sensitised fibromyalgia and non-cardiac chest pain cases and sensitized healthy controls will be excluded). All participants will be screened for major psychiatric disorder by structured clinical interview and for psychophysical variables by questionnaire. Participants will subsequently undergo functional neuroimaging that combines functional MRI scans (fMRI) with amisulpride (a drug affecting dopamine in the brain), naltrexone (a drug affecting the opioids in the brain) or an inactive tablet (that has no chemical effect on the brain). During each scan, participants will be subjected to ‘moderate pain’ (a level of pain determined on an individual basis) by way of a device attached to their thumbnail.

This approach will allow us to compare the responses of dopamine and the opioids to acute pain between cases of fibromyalgia and non-cardiac chest pain demonstrating central sensitisation and healthy, non-centrally sensitized, controls.


Main Contact

Dr Julius Bourke
email: j.bourke@qmul.ac.uk
Tel: +44 20 346 57232