Our perception of the world depends on our nervous systems, which process sensory information so we can navigate our surroundings safely. But our sensory experience of the world is not static. For example, warm water can feel like fire on sunburned skin, and the gentle brush of clothing can be excruciating when we are injured. This is similar to how a pain “memory” can change the way we perceive sensory information.
Dr. Robert Bonin, Canada Research Chair in Sensory Plasticity, aims to understand how the processes that govern the nervous system’s ability to change can lead to disorders such as chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder. He and his research team are working to identify ways to “reverse engineer” these changes and find treatments for chronic conditions.