Motor and Pain

Movement and its finely tuned control are at the center of all behaviors. The neuronal circuits controlling movement are found throughout the nervous system. Many brain diseases lead to impairment of motor function, and motor circuits are subject to plasticity and learning. Studies of motor circuits are therefore central to understanding brain function and the target for rehabilitation. The model organisms for studies of the healthy brain include rodent and human, and the methods to interrogate motor circuits span from anatomical, electrophysiological, molecular, genetic, behavioral and imaging to computational approaches. For studies of the developing and diseased brain approaches to modulating brain plasticity, develop assistive devices or brain-computer interfaces will be performed. Choosing this research sub-column, you will get training from and do frontline research with world-known experts within this diverse motor field.

Chronic pain is recognized as a disease, affects one out of five adults, is not optimally treated, and has a considerable impact on society. In acute pain, the nervous system has a dynamic protective response. The unfavorable continuation of pain, sometimes after resolution of the initial cause, serves no obvious beneficial function. Major unsolved fundamental questions about pain include a better understanding of the underlying changes in the peripheral and central nervous system when pain progresses from acute to more persistent conditions. This pain neuroscience sub-column is composed of highly specialized research units spanning from fundamental pain neuroscience to pre-clinical and clinical/human settings. If you choose this research sub-column, you will conduct frontline neuroscience research and have access to high quality training from world-known experts and facilities with first-class equipment.

Doing lab rotations within either of these sub-columns, you will be exposed to theme specific PhD courses and be able to formulate a PhD project with a basic science and/or a translational view with members of the sub-column.

Column Speakers

Hartwig Roman Siebner

Column Speaker
Danish Research Center for Magnetic Resonance
Faculty of Health
Copenhagen University Hospital Amager & Hvidovre

Thomas Graven-Nielsen

Column Speaker
Department of Health Science and Technology
Faculty of Medicine
Aalborg University

More Columns


Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) typically present during childhood and can include difficulties with language and speech, motor skills, behavior, social functioning, and learning, and they may include seizures/epilepsy. NDDs encompass disturbances of the early development of the nervous system before or around the time of birth, as well as deviant patterns of brain maturation during childhood and adolescence.

Neurodegenerative Diseases

This column will offer PhD students the opportunity to pursue research within memory processes and the most frequent neurodegenerative disorders: Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, and α-synucleinopathies, including Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and multiple systems atrophy.

Neuroinflammation and Neuron-Glia Interactions

Neuroinflammation is a rapidly expanding field that has revolutionized our understanding of acute and chronic neurological diseases and is currently considered a prime target for the development of new therapies. Neuroinflammation is the response of reactive CNS components to altered homeostasis, regardless of the cause to be endogenous or exogenous.

Brain Vasculature and Barriers

The vasculature maintains tissue microenvironments that are essential for the function and survival of cells throughout the nervous system. Accordingly, local nervous system blood flow is regulated to maintain tissue oxygenation and meet changing metabolic demands.

Brain States and Brain-Body Interactions

Now more than ever, there is a lot of fascinating science happening in neuroscience demonstrating how important the internal state of the body is for brain function and vice versa. It has become clear that the link between the brain and body plays a vital role for both physical and mental health.

Mood and Reward

Mood disorders and alcohol-/ substance use disorders are common and debilitating heterogeneous conditions associated with structural and functional abnormalities in reward-related brain structures such as the caudate-putamen, amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus.