Morrison Lab: The Embodied Brain Lab
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The functional neuroanatomy of the human brain is fundamentally shaped by its interactions with the body, and each person’s brain is even further nested in its own set of social relationships. The Embodied Brain Lab aims to better understand the emotional and motivational aspects of touch and pain, while taking the bodily and social embedding of the human brain into account.

Photo credit Thor BalkhedHave you ever felt calmed by the gentle touch of a loved one? Have you ever cringed at the threat of pain? Researchers in the Embodied Brain Lab are engaged in mapping what happens in the brain (neuroimaging) and body (neurophysiology) in circumstances like these. We use different experimental methods and approaches to investigate two main topics. The first is social touch, which often occurs in emotional interactions between people. The second is acute pain, which can affect behavior by dampening or energizing specific processes in the brain.
Social touch and acute pain may seem quite different, but both can be studied from the perspective of how they influence emotion, motivation, and behavior. Our work aims to advance our understanding of how the human brain enables such “affective” aspects of touch and pain, whether by the adaptive modification of behavior via actions (such as returning a fond caress), or by the regulation of bodily changes (such as heartbeat and hormone release).