creating a
healthier future

Pain Neurobiology


The Pain Neurobiology group is dedicated to the understanding of the neural mechanisms of chronic pain. The group research topics and technical approaches range from molecular and pharmacological studies of subcortical neural and glial populations or the neurophysiology of cortical plasticity in awake behaving rodent models, to epidemiological and neuroimaging studies of pain patients.


Over the years, the Pain Neurobiology group expanded to become an umbrella of five independent but coordinated research teams that address the neurobiological changes that occur during the onset chronic pain and that cause pain to be more than a symptom and as a disease by itself. For this we have a diverse portfolio of pain-related research topics and methodological approaches.
Our scientific focus is the understanding of the normal and abnormal activity of pain circuits at multiple neurobiological levels.

The main goals and ongoing projects of the Pain Neurobiology group are to study the establishment of spinal-DRG circuits during development; the importance of spinal-DRG and spinomedullary local and descending modulatory circuits in the control of chronic pain; the malplasticity of corticolimbic circuits in the generation of chronic pain in animal and humans; how this cortical malplasticity disrupts normal cognitive processing in memory and decision-making; and how the identification of individual clinical profiles influence the therapeutic compliance in chronic pain patients.

Over the last 10 years the five teams of the group obtained 19 competitive research grants and published over 100 peer-reviewed studies, many of those in the leading journals of the field.

Identification of brain areas with gray matter volumetric changes associated with neuropathic pain profile in a cohort of osteoarthritic patients; study conducted at i3S in collaboration with Hospital São João, Porto, and Northwestern University, Chicago (Barroso et al, PAIN, 2020).


Ongoing Projects

Dopaminergic circuits underlying habit formation and addiction in animal models of chronic pain
Reference: 2022.05193.PTDC
Proponent: Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde - Universidade do Porto
Sponsor: FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
From 15-JAN-23 to 14-JAN-26