The MODULATORY CAPACITY (Modulatory capacity: Understanding individual differences in the relationship between sensory input and pain perception) study was initiated to develop novel brain- and behaviour-based measures and to determine factors underlying individual differences in pain modulation. This was undertaken through three main projects. Data was collected via static and dynamic quantitative sensory testing, questionnaires, and measures of cognitive and emotional modulation of pain from 69 study participants. Additionally, they collected data from resting-state and pain-evoked functional magnetic resonance imaging scans from 40 of these participants. Results revealed individual variation in sensory and emotional responsiveness as well as connectivity of the brain's descending modulatory circuitry. Researchers also investigated the impact of sex and gender identification on study participation to rule out reporting bias or selective sampling. This is crucial as it has implications for determining generalisability of pain response across sex and gender identification groups. Data from 137 participants revealed the likelihood of bias from sex differences in pain response studies. In the third project, researchers studied neural pain responses in people born with congenital pain insensitivity. Intriguingly, their neural 'pain matrix' response was just like healthy individuals, underscoring the need to find better neuroimaging markers for pain. Study outcomes were presented at several international meetings, in public forums and through mass media, and manuscripts are currently under preparation. MODULATORY CAPACITY researchers characterised the neural mechanisms involved in pain response and studied the role of potential brain and behavioural markers in pain modulation. Future research efforts will focus on clinical pain populations to detect and validate novel clinically applicable markers for emotional and cognitive pain modulation. Applications include measuring and predicting chronic pain response following medical interventions such as surgery.
Pain response, sensory input, pain perception, pain modulation, MODULATORY CAPACITY