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Research on the newborn infant pain using neuroimaging

Paediatric neuroimaging

The newborn infant pain investigations aim to address the following questions:

What are the neuro-developmental changes that underlie the beginning of human pain perception – and how are these modulated by early life nociceptive/pain exposure?

Can fMRI be used to identify, in a longitudinal fashion, the cortical and subcortical structures activated by noxious stimulation in the developing human brain?

Does pain in early-life alter future responses to noxious stimuli and anaesthetic requirements?

Is morphine an effective analgesic for procedural pain in newborn infants?

Group Head Biography: 

Dr Rebeccah Slater is a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellow and Associate Professor of Paediatric Neuroimaging at the University of Oxford. She is Fellow of Green Templeton College and Lecturer in Biomedical Science at Lady Margaret Hall. Dr Slater studied Physics (BSc) at Imperial College and Neuroscience (MSc) at UCL and was awarded a PhD in 2007, where she made the first observations that the newborn infant brain is functionally activated by noxious stimuli.

Dr Slater now leads The Paediatric and Infant Pain & Anaesthesia (PiPA) group, which is focused on understanding the development of human pain processing. She is interested in the critical newborn period when infants are first exposed to tissue injury and begin to process and experience pain. Her group uses a range of non-invasive brain imaging tools, including EEG and fMRI, to explore the development of pain in the human nervous system.

She has published numerous research articles about infant pain in journals such as The Lancet, Current Biology and PLoS Medicine. Her work has generated considerable public interest and she has been passionately involved in the communication of science. She has taken part in numerous scientific discussions on TV and radio, including BBC Radio 4, The BBC World Service and Horizon.

Dr Slater, an Affiliate Member of the London Pain Consortium, continues her research at the John Radcliffe Children’s Hospital and the Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB) to improve our understanding of the measurement and treatment of infant pain.

Our team

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