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Past Research
The Functional Development of Supraspinal Pain Processing in the Human Neonate and Infant
The Fitzgerald research group has established the developmental pattern of neonatal acute pain responses and of primary and secondary hyperalgesia in human infants using spinal flexion withdrawal reflexes and abdominal skin reflexes. However little is known about the sensory processing of both innocuous and noxious stimuli at higher levels of the CNS, particularly at cortical level in neonates and infants. Drs Meek & Wyatt have established the technique of infra red spectroscopy to record cortical activity in very young infants in the neonatal unit at UCH. Dr Boyd is an expert in the recording of event-related potentials in children in GOS. Here we propose to use both these techniques to study the development of supraspinal and cortical responses to both innocuous and noxious stimulation in human infants and investigate central and peripheral factors that may influence these responses.
The study will be carried out on neonates and infants recruited from neonatal intensive care at UCH, tested from 26 to 42 weeks. Cross-sectional and longitudinal data will be collected where possible. The recruitment of patients, recording procedures and data analysis will be performed under joint supervision with Dr Judith Meek & Prof Wyatt and a research nurse.

NIMR trace over sensorimotor cortex following heel lancing a 32 week old infant.

1. Andrews, K. & Fitzgerald, M. (1994) The cutaneous withdrawal reflex in human neonates: sensitization, receptive fields and the effects of contralateral stimulation. Pain 56, 95-101
2. Andrews K, Fitzgerald M. (2002) Wound sensitivity as a measure of analgesic effects following surgery in human neonates and infants. Pain 99:185-192.
3. Andrews, KA, et al.(2002) Abdominal sensitivity in the first year of life: comparison of infants with and without prenatally-diagnosed unilateral hydronephrosis Pain 100:35-46.
4. Meek JH, et al., (1998) Regional hemodynamic responses to visual stimulation in awake infants. Pediatr Res. 1998 Jun;43(6):840-3.
5. Hebden JC, et al.(2002) Three-dimensional optical tomography of the premature infant brain. Phys Med Biol.47:4155-66.
6. Liasis A, et al. (2003) Auditory event-related potentials in the assessment of auditory processing disorders: a pilot study. Neuropediatrics. 34:23-9.