Karen D Davis, PhD

Senior Scientist and Scientific Division Head: Research, Toronto Western Research Institute (TWRI)

The main interest of my lab is the central mechanisms underlying pain and temperature perception, the influence of attention, and mechanisms of plasticity under normal conditions and in patients with neurologic or psychiatric disorders. A variety of experimental techniques are used, including functional brain imaging (fMRI, PET), psychophysical and cognitive assessment, and electrophysiological recordings in the thalamus and cortex. The lab has been refining imaging and electrophysiological techniques to allow for clinically-relevant investigations of pain, temperature sense and movement disorders in normal and injured states. For instance, we are developing tools to detect brain activity related to at different perceptual outcomes evoked by thermal and painful stimuli and how these are altered in different attentional states. For instance, whether separate cortical or thalamic regions are involved in specific tasks (such as was found for attention and pain-regions in the cingulate cortex) reveal important organizational patterns in normal and diseased states. These data may assist in diagnoses (pre-surgical, psychiatric, etc.) in a variety of patient groups.