Dr George Tackley
ERSC Post-doctoral Fellow
Our experience of the world is not a simple transfer of stimulus information to the brain. Take the example of pain. A pin-prick on the tip of one's finger is subject to modification at numerous levels within the nervous system, from the site of injury where tissue integrity and injury are relevant, all the way up to the brain where emotional and attentional state come into play.
Remarkably, the brain sometimes acts to alter sensory information at the point of entry in the spinal cord. That is, being unhappy or in an unusual environment can actually change how pain information is processed before it gets near your brain, sometimes as far down as your lower back!
We often think of the spinal cord as distant from the brain and merely a conduit for passing information from the outside to the inside. My research with MR imaging seeks to challenge this, looking at the many ways sensory information is modified in the cord and seeking to understand how the brain and cord's intimate relationship guides how we feel and act.