brain and pain proyecto



The Brain and Pain (BaP) research group was born with the aim of improving the quality of life of patients suffering from chronic pain by applying up-to-date knowledge on the neural bases of pain processing and modulation. 

The failure of pharmacological and surgical interventions to control pain is evident in patients with drug-resistant and refractory pain. This indicates the need for a paradigm shift in pain management, from a diagnostic-based strategy to one based on the knowledge of the mechanisms that explain why pain becomes chronic. 

At BaP, we understand pain as a complex experience influenced by psychological, biological, and social factors. Therefore, we propose a comprehensive evaluation of the central nervous system responses and brain plasticity mechanisms that explain chronic pain, aiming to identify biomarkers and develop more individualised and specialised intervention strategies. 

In addition, we are interested in testing alternative treatments for pain control, based primarily on neuromodulation techniques. These techniques are innovative, cost-effective, easily integrated into health care services, and can be applied in health centers and the patient’s home. 

Our methodology

At BaP, we carry out studies with different chronic pain populations, such as patients with fibromyalgia, refractory pain, or oncologic pain. Our research strategy relies on conducting comprehensive assessments of pain processing and the patient’s neuropsychological and cognitive characteristics to identify biomarkers and apply neuromodulation interventions with similar protocols to obtain robust evidence of their efficacy.

Our technology

To complete the comprehensive assessment of patients with chronic pain, we employ:

  • Neuroimaging techniques to evaluate brain activity associated with pain processing, including electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
  • Quantitative sensory testing to assess the perception of pain processing, which helps us determine the degree of impairment of the pain processing pathways. These techniques include measuring pressure and thermal pain thresholds, conditioned pain modulation (CPM), and temporal summation (TS).
  • Standardised questionnaires that, given the subjective nature of pain, inform us of the levels of pain experienced and the presence of pain-associated symptomatology (such as sleep problems, fatigue, mood alterations, cognitive problems, etc.).
ensayo clinico bap

Concerning the management of chronic pain and associated symptoms, our research group is focused on determining the efficacy and effectiveness of neuromodulation techniques for the treatment of patients with chronic pain. The neuromodulation techniques we are currently studying are:

  • Transcranial direct current electrical stimulation (tDCS) is a brain stimulation technique where low-intensity electrical current is applied through electrodes placed on the scalp. It has been used in different chronic pain disorders, such as in the treatment of fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain. Although evidence of its efficacy in the treatment of specific chronic pain syndromes has grown in recent years, more studies are still needed to fully understand its potential benefits.
  • Transcranial electrical stimulation with alternating current (tACS) is also a brain stimulation technique in which low-intensity electrical current is applied through electrodes placed on the scalp. Unlike tDCS, which uses a constant current, tACS uses an alternating current that changes direction periodically. It has been used mainly in research, where preliminary promising effects have been found for the treatment of chronic pain. However, more studies are needed to prove its effectiveness.

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