MoNoPly: Models of Nociceptive Plasticity in Chronic Pain

Lead researcher

Dr Christopher Brown, University of Liverpool.

Who can get involved

This project is looking for people who are aged 18+ and experience pain from inflammatory arthritis. The study is open to males or females.

Type of study

Observational study involving surveys, tasks and recordings of brain activity.


The study is taking place in Liverpool, including Aintree University Hospital and the University of Liverpool. Participants must be able to travel to Liverpool and can claim for travel expenses up to certain limits – please enquire for further details.

About the project

Chronic pain (defined as pain lasting more than three months) can persist in people with inflammatory arthritis despite the best efforts of doctors to manage inflammation. For many patients, treatments such as pain-killing medications simply don’t work well. This may be because these treatments are not targeting all of the causes of the pain.

The feeling of pain depends on complex processes in the nervous system including in the brain. Research has found that some changes can occur in the brain (termed “neuro-plasticity”) that are related to chronic pain symptoms, and might even be a cause of why some people develop chronic pain symptoms in the first place. But we don’t understand very well what causes these changes or how to treat them.

With this project, we are measuring the function of the brain as comprehensively as possible, and using this information to analyse what aspects of brain function might be contributing to pain. We hope that in the future, the information from this project will be used to find more effective ways of treating chronic pain.

What is involved?

The study will involve either two or three appointments in Liverpool:

(1) At least one visit (and maximum of two) will be at Aintree University Hospital. You will be asked to complete a number of questionnaires and undergo some tasks that involve recording your brain activity with a technique called EEG while you experience mildly painful sensations (which you are in complete control of). These visits can last 3-4 hours.

(2) If you are eligible and willing to undergo a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan of your brain, another visit could take place to perform this scan, in a visit lasting up to 2 hours.

It is possible to organise to complete both visits on the same day if you are travelling from afar, but we generally recommend two separate visits. Participants will receive reimbursement for their time, plus travel and parking expenses.

Find out more

Please email Eleanor Brian at in the first instance to register your interest, and we will send a more detailed Participant Information Sheet.