Katja WiechUniversity of Bath, UK F1000 Faculty Member (since 30 January 2012)
Post-doctoral scientist at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences & FMRIB Centre, University of Oxford (UK)
Visiting Professor at KU Leuven (Belgium)
MA in Psychology; Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf (Germany)
Dr rer soc (PhD equivalent), Psychology; Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen (Germany)
My main interest is to develop an understanding of brain systems involved in the modulation of pain by beliefs people hold. These beliefs can be related to various aspects pain itself, ones ability to cope with it or conditions that can influence the two.
I use a multi-methods approach combining different non-invasive neuroimaging techniques including functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), behavioral and autonomic measures. In my studies I have shown that beliefs can engage powerful mechanisms in the brain that can aggravate as well as alleviate pain. My recent work suggests that belief-related signals arise from the prefrontal cortex and influence the processing of incoming sensory information via the anterior insula as the key region involved in the monitoring of bodily states. I am particularly interested in the dynamic interplay between these and other brain regions during perceptual judgments about changes in pain induced by various types of interventions. In future work, I hope to define in more detail the decision-making process that integrates beliefs with incoming sensory information and the failure of optimal integration in biased perceptual decisions.
With my background in Experimental and Clinical Psychology I seek to translate my basic research into clinical pain to make our findings available for the development of new prevention and treatment options for chronic pain.
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