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Senior Investigator

M. Catherine Bushnell, Ph.D.

Pain and Integrative Neuroscience Laboratory

Building 10 Room 4-1743
10 Center Drive
Bethesda MD 20892-1302
Office: 301-451-2026

Dr. Bushnell holds a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the American University, Washington, D.C. and received postdoctoral training in neurophysiology at the NIH. She then spent 12 years at the University of Montreal and 16 years as the Harold Griffith Professor of Anesthesia at McGill University before returning to NIH in 2012. She has been president of the Canadian Pain Society, and treasurer and press editor-in-chief of the International Association for the Study of Pain and is currently a councilor for the Society for Neuroscience. Among her honors are the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Pain Society and the Frederick Kerr Basic Science Research Award from the American Pain Society. Her laboratory in NCCIH studies forebrain mechanisms of pain processing, psychological modulation of pain, and neural alterations in chronic pain patients.

The general mission of Dr. Bushnell's program is to understand the brain's role in perceiving, modifying, and managing pain, with a special emphasis on non-pharmacological modulation of pain. The PAIN Branch at NCCIH contains both clinical and basic science programs. Current clinical studies use sensory and physiological testing, functional MRI and TMS to address mechanisms of non-pharmacological modulation of pain in healthy volunteers and chronic pain patients, mechanisms underlying reduced pain perception in yoga practitioners, and neural mechanisms underlying emotional touch. Members of the basic science team are evaluating the effects of environmental factors on brain anatomy and neurotransmission in nociceptive models.

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  • 1) Villemure C, Ceko M, Cotton VA, Bushnell MC (2013)
  • Insular cortex mediates incrased pain tolerance in yoga practitioners
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • 2) Čeko M, Seminowicz DA, Bushnell MC, Olausson HW (2013)
  • Anatomical and functional enhancements of the insula after loss of large primary somatosensory fibres
  • Cereb Cortex, 23(9), 2017-24
  • 3) Liljencrantz J, Bjornsdotter M, Morrison I, Bergstrand S, Ceko M, Seminowicz D, Cole J, Bushnell MC, Olausson O. (2013)
  • Altered C-tactile processing in human dynamic tactile allodynia.
  • Pain, 154, 227-234
  • 4) Takerian M, Alvarado S, Millecamps M, Vachon P, Crosby C, Bushnell MC, Szyf M, Stone LS (2013)
  • Peripheral nerve injury ins associated with chronic, reversible changes in global DNA methylation in the mouse prefrontal cortex
  • PLoS One, 8(1), e55259
  • 5) Bushnell MC, Ceko M, Low LA (2013)
  • Cognitive and emotional control of pain and its disruption in chronic pain
  • Nat Rev Neurosci, 2013 Jul;14(7), 502-11
  • 6) Vachon p, Millecamps M, Low L, Thompson SJ, Pailleux F, Beaudry F, Bushnell MC, Stone LS. (2013)
  • Alleviation of chronic neuropathic pain by environmental enrichment in mice well after the establishment of chronic pain, Behav
  • Brain, Funct 9, 9-22
  • 7) Ceko M, Bushnell MC, Fitzcharles MA, Schweinhardt P. (2013)
  • Fibromyalgia interacts with age to change the brain
  • Clinical, Sep 6, 249-60
  • 8) Seminowicz DA, Wideman TH, Naso L, Hatami-Khoroushahi Z, Fallatah S, Ware MA, Jarzem P, Bushnell MC, Shir Y, Ouellet JA, Stone LS (2012)
  • Effective treatment of low back pain reverses abnormal brain anatomy and function
  • J Neurosci, May 18;31(20), 7540-50
  • 9) Low LA, Millecamps M, Seminowicz DA, Naso L, Thompson SJ, Stone LS, Bushnell MC (2012)
  • Nerve injury causes long-term attentional deficits in rats
  • Neurosci Lett, Nov 7, 529(2)
  • 10) Villemure C, Laferri�re AL and Bushnell MC (2012)
  • The ventral striatum is implicated in the analgesic effect of pleasant odors
  • Pain Research and Management, 17, 69-74
  • 11) Villemure C, Laferri�re AL and Bushnell MC (2012)
  • The ventral striatum is implicated in the analgesic effect of pleasant odors
  • Pain Research and Management, 17, 69-74
  • 12) Loggia ML, Juneau M, Bushnell MC (2011)
  • Autonomic responses to heat pain: Heart rate, skin conductance, and their relation to pain ratings and stimulus intensity
  • Pain, 152, 592-8
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