A multi-method approach to understanding pain sensitivity pre- and post- non-pharmacological interventions that target alpha wave brain activity


The experience of pain is highly subjective and dependent on a number of factors including a person’s previous experience of pain (i.e., an on-going clinical condition or recent painful episode) and the current context of pain. Recent neuroimaging research suggests that pain experience might also be dependent on fluctuations in baseline brain activity that occur before a painful event has even happened and alpha (α) wave brain activity may be particularly important in pain perception.

The overall aim of our research is to provide empirical support for the role of intrinsic neural activity in the subjective experience of pain by:

  1. Measuring pre- and post-stimulus brain activity using EEG and correlating this with pressure pain thresholds and subjective experience of pain.
  2. Modifying pre-stimulus brain activity with interventions that target α-oscillations to increase subsequent pain thresholds and thereby change the subjective experience of pain.
  3. Measuring the efficacy of an intervention over both short and long durations in a clinical pain population.

This research will have implications for the better understanding of chronic pain that translate into a direct benefit for treatment using a non-pharmacological, cost-effective intervention.