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CHBH Seminar Series: Dr Massieh Moayedi

Lectures Talks and Workshops, Life and Environmental Sciences, Medical and Dental Sciences, Research, Students
Thursday 28th May 2020 (13:00-14:00)
Download the date to your calendar (.ics file)

Please email for Zoom invite and password, and if you would also like to have a 1:1 video call with Dr Moayedi on the day itself.


We are pleased to announce that Dr Massieh Moayedi, Assistant Professor from the University of Toronto will be presenting a CHBH seminar on Thursday 28th May, 13:00-14:00 BST online via Zoom, please email for Zoom invite and password.

If you would be interested in virtually-meeting with Dr Moayedi 1:1 on the day, please contact for time-slot availability.

Understanding the neural mechanisms of individual differences in pain using a translational framework

Pain is the largest health-related burden on society, and affects one in five adults. Despite its prevalence, little is known about the neural mechanisms of pain. Notably, pain is a personal experience, shaped by various factors. As such, people feel pain very differently: what may feel like a light touch to one person may be excruciating to another.

First, I will present novel data showing that the functional neural architecture of the brain can determine how much pain a person will report to a future pain stimulus using an ecologically valid model of pain.

Next, I address a fundamental gap in our understanding of pain. Pain interferes with cognitive processes, resulting in forgetfulness, an inability to focus, and difficulties in abstract thinking, problem solving and decision-making. Determining the mechanism underlying this interference could serve as a powerful biomarker and therapeutic target for pain. Prevailing models of this interference rely on distraction, but these do not adequately fit behavioural data. Our imaging studies in chronic pain reveal a potentially different mechanism for this interaction. Specifically, the frontal polar cortex has abnormal structure and function in chronic pain. The frontal pole is implicated in cognitive branching—the ability to select a task based on its perceived value while tracking the perceived value of a competing task. Based on these findings, we propose that pain is not a distraction, but is a ‘task’ that competes for limited resources.  We show novel behavioural data supporting this concept: painful stimuli, but not iso-salient, unpleasant somatosensory stimuli, adversely affect task performance on low-value task, but not a high value task.

In sum, I will present two different mechanisms of the neural underpinnings of individual differences in pain.


Dr. Massieh Moayedi completed his doctoral studies at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Dr. Karen Davis where he investigated trigeminal nerve and brain abnormalities in painful temporomandibular disorders using magnetic resonance imaging. He then joined University College London as an Honorary Research’s fellow, and was deemed a scientist with exceptional promise by the Royal Society. He received the important International Association for the Study of Pain International Trainee Fellowship in 2012 to study the electrocortical correlates of pain and defensive actions. He joined the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry in 2016 as an Assistant professor. He is co-Director of the Centre For Multimodal Sensorimotor and Pain Research at the University of Toronto. Through his research, Dr. Moayedi investigates the neural underpinnings of pain in health and disease. Dr. Moayedi is an active member of the International Association for the Study of Pain, the Canadian Pain Society and the University of Toronto Centre for the Study of Pain. His work has been recognized by National and International bodies, and he has received the prestigious International Association for the Study of Pain Early Career Research Grant. 


CHBH Seminars are free to attend and are open to all, both within and outside the University.

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