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Prof Giandomenico Iannetti
Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology
Gower Street
Tel:  +44 (0) 20 7679 3759
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7679 2154
  • Professor of Neuroscience
  • Neuro, Physiology & Pharmacology
  • Div of Biosciences
  • Faculty of Life Sciences
Research Groups
Research Themes
Research Summary

My research group (click here for more details) works in the field of sensory neuroscience: we investigate the neural processes leading to the perception of sensory events occurring in the world around us. We have a particular interest in the nociceptive system and in the detection of and reaction to sensory events potentially dangerous for the body.

Our approach is to combine psychophysics and laboratory techniques (like electromyography [EMG], electroencephalography-magnetoencephalography [EEG/MEG] and functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI]) to provide a readout of the function of the central nervous system at different levels, in response to external stimuli belonging to various sensory modalities (e.g. auditory, visual, somatosensory). To explore the function of the nociceptive system we use these functional neuroimaging tools during cutaneous laser stimulation - a technique that I have been using and developing since 1999 and that allows selective activation of cutaneous A-delta and C nociceptive terminals.

The functional imaging responses elicited by nociceptive stimuli are recorded widely. However, their usefulness in unravelling the neural mechanism of pain perception is limited, as they consist in a mixture of neural activities encoding specific features of the peripheral nociceptive input (like quality, intensity and location of the stimulus), as well as non-specific neural activities (encoding, for example, stimulus novelty and saliency).

Therefore, our research is currently focusing on developing and applying advanced analytical approaches to better understand what we really ‘see’ from the obtained brain waves or brain images. More precisely, we are currently interested in understanding the physiological and psychological processes underlying:

(1) The transmission and modulation of ascending nociceptive signals
(2) The generation of painful percepts following nociceptive stimulation
(3) The detection and reaction to salient events occurring in the sensory environment
(4) The modulation of pain perception and withdrawal reflexes by body posture
(5) The definition of a defensive portion of space surrounding the body

Teaching Summary

I am the joint-director of the MRes Programme at CoMPLEX (www.ucl.ac.uk/complex)

01-OCT-2009 Royal Society University Research Fellow Neuroscience Physiology and Pharmacology University College London, United Kingdom
01-MAR-2008 – 30-SEP-2009 University Research Lecturer Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics University of Oxford, United Kingdom
01-OCT-2006 – 30-SEP-2009 Royal Society University Research Fellow Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics University of Oxford, United Kingdom
01-OCT-2006 Fellow by Special Election St Catherine's College University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Academic Background
2003 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Neuroscience Universita degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza
1999 MD Doctor of Medicine – Medicine Universita degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza
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University College London - Gower Street - London - WC1E 6BT Tel:+44 (0)20 7679 2000

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