Sabbatical Lukas Van Oudenhove: scientific stay at the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab of Dartmouth College
With the proposed scientific stay in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab (CANlab) of Prof. dr. Tor Wager (University of Colorado, Boulder, from July 1, 2019 Dartmouth College), a world authority in the use of functional brain imaging to study the neurobiological basis of subjective perception of pain and emotions, I aim to connect with the world top in these scientific disciplines. My own human research on gut-brain communication mechanisms underlying the perception of visceral pain, the control of food intake, and their link with emotions, can be considered internationally leading, but is situated in a rather narrow niche. Embedding in a large gastroenterology research group puts me in the unique position of collecting this type of data through access to invasive visceral stimulation techniques, but lacking to bridge the gap with the world's top pain and emotion, research outside the visceral context is a thorough theoretical and practical knowledge of innovative state-of-the-art analysis methodology for functional brain imaging data, for which CANlab is renowned worldwide. My first specific objective is therefore to acquire thorough (practical) knowledge of these analysis techniques and to apply them to existing and new data sets of my group at KU Leuven concerning visceral pain perception and emotional modulation, whether or not in combination with relevant data collected by CANlab or other collaborating groups. This has strong potential to lead to a number of publications in high impact journals that will take my research and academic resume to the next level. At the same time, during my stay I plan to apply for funding for a large research project on "neural signatures" for various pain modalities in collaboration with Prof. dr. Wager, with the United States National Institute of Health and / or the European Research Council (Consoldator Grant).