Pain and Cognition Neuroimaging Lab

Research Overview

We study how pain affects cognition and how cognition shapes pain perception. For example, we are interested in understanding how placebo and nocebo effects emerge, how sensory words are learned, how pain perception is modulated by social observation.

Understanding sensory perception can shed light on the neurobiology of complex cognitive processes. Unveiling the relationship between pain and cognition can be relevant for understanding not only chronic pain conditions but also psychiatric and neurological disorders, such as depression and stroke, ultimately informing diagnosis and treatment.


Congratulations to Shima on the first paper from her PhD!

Read about our most recent work in collaboration with the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory.

A new article is out in Pursuit about our recent work.

We are excited to welcome  an Honours student, Marie  Spehar,  good luck with your study this year.

Welcome to Adrian Gonzales as our new Research Assistant.

Congratulations to Shima Rouhi on being awarded the Best Poster Prize at the Australasian Sleep Association's Annual Scientific Meeting. She presented the findings of her meta-analysis on the effect of different types of sleep loss on various experimental measures of pain, 8-11 November 2022, Brisbane.

Congratulations to Shima Rouhi on her PhD confirmation. Well done!

Congratulations to Chen (Jess) Liang who has  just had a paper published about the work she has done as a student volunteer in the lab. Paper link.

Welcome to Olivia Chan as our new Master's student, working on the project about the relationship between sleep, exercise and cognition after stroke.

Dr. Natalia Egorova-Brumley has started as a Melbourne Research Fellow (07/2022-12/2022), supported by the University of Melbourne and has been successful in securing  the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences Research Fellowship (2023-2025).

Dr. Natalia Egorova-Brumley and Xiaoyu Sun presented at the 2022 Australian Brain and Psychological Sciences meeting , 11-14 July 2022. Natalia presented a poster "Neurobiology of osteoarthritis:  a systematic review and meta-analysis" and Xiaoyu gave a talk "Do you really want to know, even if it hurts? Trading pain for noninstrumental information".

Congratulations to Carmen Zheng and Sarah Van Drunen ( Masters students in 2020-2021) whose paper "Neural correlates of co-occurring pain and depression: An activation-likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis and systematic review" has just been accepted for publication in Translational Psychiatry, 12 April, 2022.

Dr. Natalia Egorova-Brumley gave an invited talk at the 2022 Australian Pain Society meeting. Topical Session "Placebo and nocebo from the lab to the hospital: State of the field and implementing procedures to drive therapeutic benefits",  and presented a poster "Neurobiology of osteoarthritis:  a systematic review and meta-analysis", 10-13 April 2022.

Welcome to Luiza Bonfim Pacheco as our new Research Assistant.

Welcome to Shima Rouhi who has just started her PhD at the intersection of pain and sleep.

Welcome to Emily Chan as our new Student Volunteer, good luck with your study.

Dr Natalia  Egorova-Brumley, Carmen Zheng and Jess Liang presented 3 talks at the Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting. 18-19 November, 2021.

Dr. Natalia Egorova-Brumley presented at the Society for the Neurobiology of Language Conference. "White matter tracts underlying verbal fluency".  5 October, 2021.

Congratulations to Georgia Cotter (Honours student in 2020) whose paper has just been accepted for publication in International Journal of Stroke, 30 August, 2021.

Dr. Natalia Egorova-Brumley presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference. "Continued white matter fibre degeneration over 3 years after ischemic stroke".  26-30 July, 2021.

Welcome to Alexandra Konski as our new Research Assistant and thanks to  Mackenzie Murphy for her hard work this year, good luck with your studies.

New equipment addition to the lab - Medoc Algomed Computerised Pressure Algometer - thanks to the 2021 MDHS Large Equipment Grant Scheme award, 22/06/2021.

Dr. Natalia Egorova-Brumley presented at the 2021 International Association for the Study of Pain meeting. "Learning Pain Words",  11-12, 17-18 June 2021.

Dr. Natalia Egorova-Brumley received the 2021 Margot Prior Early Career Research Award in clinical science, 21/04/2021.

Dr. Natalia Egorova-Brumley presented at the 2021 Australian Pain Society meeting. "Learning Pain Words",  19-20 April 2021.

Dr. Natalia Egorova together with colleagues from the Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine Dr. Michelle Hall and Dr. Fiona Dobson received 2020 MDHS Mid-Career Seeding Ideas Grant to investigate the neurobiology of hip osteoarthritis and the effect of exercise on the brain.

Ayshin Rasi presented at the Australasian Human Development Association (AHDA) Online Conference. “From "Ouchie" to "Hurt": A Cross-Linguistic Examination of Children's Pain Words”, October 22nd 2020.

Dr. Natalia Egorova presented at the Expectation, Perception and Cognition 2020 online conference. “Learning Pain Words”, October 1st   2020.

Carmen Zheng gave a talk on “The neural correlates of comorbid pain and depression” at the APS event - CCN Postgraduate Research Symposium, September 8th 2020.


A talk by Dr. Lewis Crawford, University of Sydney  ("Leveraging high field imaging to better understand endogenous pain modulation – how 7-tesla MRI enables brainstem-focussed investigations of pain control") on May 10th 2023.

A talk by Prof. Yury Shtyrov, Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, Aarhus University, Denmark  ("Cortical systems for word acquisition and storage") on November 9th 2022.

Experimental Pain Journal Club

Previous sessions:

Session 1: Pain & Sleep. Hosts: Dr. Natalia Egorova and Prof. Amy Jordan. 07/10/2020. We discussed the relationship between acute pain and sleep. We first talked about a paper on the effect of sleep fragmentation on pain sensitivity, followed by a discussion of possible novel interdisciplinary projects we can undertake at MSPS. 

Session 2: Pain & Music. Hosts: Dr. Natalia Egorova, Dr. Jeanette Tamplin, Prof. Kat McFerran. 04/11/2020. We discussed the relationship between pain and music. We first presented a review paper on how music relieves pain, and then had a general discussion of music effects on experimental, acute, and chronic pain, including efficacy of music therapy.

Session 3: Pain & Reward. Hosts: Dr. Natalia Egorova, A/Prof Stefan Bode. 09/12/2020. We discussed the relationship between pain and reward. We first presented a paper on how humans integrate the prospects of pain and reward during choice, and then had a general discussion of the effects of pain on reward and information seeking.

The pdf of all discussed papers can be found:

This series is supported by the ReWire ECR Award to Natalia Egorova.


  • Natalia Egorova-Brumley

Current students and Staff

  • Marie Spehar (Honours student)
  • Olivia Chan (Master's student, co-supervised with Prof. Amy Brodtmann)
  • Shima Rouhi (PhD, co-supervised with Prof. Amy Jordan)
  • Luiza Bonfim Pacheco (Research Assistant)
  • Emily Chan (Research Assistant)
  • Adrian Gonzales (Research Assistant)

Past students and Staff

  • Xiaoyu Sun (Master's, co-supervised with A/Prof Stefan Bode)
  • Jamie Topcu (Research Assistant, co-supervised with Prof.  Amy Jordan)
  • Chen Liang (Student volunteer)
  • Kyla Fareeha (Student volunteer)
  • Mazyar  Goodarz (Honours)
  • Carmen Zheng (Master's)
  • Sarah Van Drunen (Master's)
  • Alexandra Konski (Research Assistant)
  • Sophia Hodgson (Honours)
  • Abigail Lim (Honours)
  • Ayshin Rasi (Honours)
  • Georgia Cotter (Honours)
  • Elie Gottlieb (PhD)
  • Mackenzie Murphy (Research Assistant)

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD students, Masters by Research, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science, Post Doctor Researchers to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Publications


  • Rouhi S.,  Topcu J., Egorova-Brumley N., Jordan A.S. The impact of sleep disturbance on pain perception: A systematic review examining the moderating effect of sex and age.  Sleep Medicine Reviews (2023), 101835.
  • Hall, M., Klyne, D.M., Zheng, C.J., Lima, Y.L., Egorova-Brumley N. Neurobiology of osteoarthritis: a systematic review and activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis. Scientific reports (2023), 13,  12442.
  • Bode, S., Sun, X., Jiwa, M., Cooper, P., Chong, T., Egorova-Brumley N. When knowledge hurts: Humans are willing to receive pain for obtaining non-instrumental information. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (2023, vol. 298, issue 2002),
  • Xiong, Y., Khlif, M.S., Egorova-Brumley N., Brodtmann A., Stark, B. C. Neural correlates of verbal fluency revealed by longitudinal non-diffusion-weighted imaging in stroke. Neuroimage: Clinical (2023) 38:103406, doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2023.103406. Preprint at
  • Liew S-L., Schweighofer N, Cole J.H., Zavaliangos-Petropulu A., Lo B.P., Han L.K.M., Hahn T., Schmaal L., Donnelly M.R., Jeong J.N., Wang Z., Abdullah A., Kim J.H., Hutton A., Barisano G., Borich M.R., Boyd L.A., Brodtmann A., Buetefisch C.M., Byblow W.D., Cassidy J.M., Charalam- bous C.C., Ciullo V., Conforto A.B., Dacosta-Aguayo R., DiCarlo J.A., Domin M., Dula A.N., Egorova-Brumley N., Feng W., Geranmayeh F., Gregory C.M., Hanlon C.A., Holguin J.A., Hordacre B., Jahanshad N.,Kautz S.A., Khlif M.S., Kim H., Kuceyeski A., Lin D.J., Liu J., Lotze M., MacIntosh B.J., Margetis J.L., Mataro M., Mohamed F.B., Olafson E.R., Park G., Piras F., Revill K.P., Roberts P., Robertson A.D., Sanossian N., Schambra H.M., Seo N.J., Soekadar S.J., Spalletta G., Stinear C.M., Taga M., Tang W.K., Thielman J.T., Vecchio D., Ward N.S., Westlye L.T., Winstein C.J., Wittenberg G.F., Wolf S.L., Wong K.A., Yu C., Cramer S.C., Thompson P.M. Association of Brain Age, Lesion Volume, and Functional Outcome in Patients With Stroke. Neurology (2023), 100 (20). Preprint available here.
  • Egorova-Brumley N., Dhollander T., Khan W., Khlif M.S., Ebaid D., Brodtmann A. Changes in white matter microstructure over 3 years in people with and without stroke. Neurology (2023), 100 (16).


  • Egorova-Brumley N., Chen Liang, Khlif, M.S., Brodtmann A. White matter microstructure and verbal fluency. Brain Structure and Function (accepted).
  • Khlif, M.S., Egorova-Brumley N., Bird L., Werden E., Brodtmann A. Cortical thinning 3 years after ischaemic stroke is associated with cognitive impairment and APOE ε4. Neuroimage: Clinical, (accepted).
  • Zheng C., Van Drunen S., Egorova-Brumley N. Neural correlates of co-occurring pain and depression: An activation-likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis and systematic review. Translational Psychiatry, (accepted).
  • Egorova-Brumley N., Khlif, M.S., Werden E., Bird L., Brodtmann A. Grey and white matter atrophy one year after stroke aphasia. Brain Communications, (accepted).
  • Zavaliangos-Petropulu A., Lo B., Donnelly M.R., Schweighofer N., Lohse K., Jahanshad N., Barisano G., Banaj N., Borich M.R., Boyd L.A., Buetefisch C.M., Byblow W.D., Cassidy J.M., Charalambous C.C., Conforto A.B., DiCarlo J.A., Dula A.N., Egorova-Brumley N., Etherton M.R., Feng W., Fercho K.A., Geranmayeh F., Hanlon C.A., Hayward K.S., Hordacre B., Kautz S.A., Khlif M.S., Kim H., Kuceyeski A., Lin D.J., Lotze M., Liu J., MacIntosh B.J., Margetis J.L., Piras F., Ramos-Murguialday A., Revill K.P., Roberts P.S., Robertson A.D., Schambra H.M., Seo N.J., Shiroishi M.S., Soekadar S.R., Spalletta G., Taga M., Tang W.K., Thielman G.T., Vecchio D., Ward N.S., Westlye L.T., Werden E., Winstein C., Wittenberg G.F., Wolf S.L., Wong K.A., Yu C., Brodtmann A., Cramer S.C., Thompson P.M., Liew S.-L. Chronic stroke sensorimotor impairment is related to smaller hippocampal volumes: An ENIGMA analysis. JAHA (accepted). Pre-print available:


  • Khlif, M.S., Werden E., Bird L., Egorova-Brumley N., Brodtmann A. Atrophy of ipsilesional hippocampal subfields vary over first year after ischemic stroke. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (2021) Nov 27. doi: 10.1002/jmri.28009.
  • Brodtmann A., Werden E, Khlif M.S., Bird L., Egorova-Brumley N., Veldsman M., Pardoe H., Jackson G., Bradshaw J., Cumming T., Darby D., Churilov L., and Donnan G. Increased brain atrophy over 3 years in stroke survivors is linked to early post-stroke cognitive impairment. Frontiers in Neurology (2021). Pre-print available:
  • Liew, S.-L., Zavaliangos-Petropulu, A., Schweighofer, N., Jahanshad, N., Lang, C. E., Lohse, K. R., Banaj, N., Barisano, G., Baugh, L. A., Bhattacharya, A. K., Bigjahan, B., Borich, M. R., Boyd, L. A., Brodtmann, A., Buetefisch, C. M., Byblow, W. D., Cassidy, J. M., Ciullo, V., Conforto, A. B., Craddock, R. C., Dula, A. N., Egorova, N., Feng, W., Fercho, K. A., Gregory, C. M., Hanlon, C. A., Hayward, K. S., Holguin, J. A., Hordacre, B., Hwang, D. H., Kautz, S. A., Khlif, M. S., Kim, B., Kim, H., Kuceyeski, A., Lin, D., Liu, J., Lotze, M., MacIntosh, B. J., Margetis, J. L., Mohamed, F. B., Nordvik, J. E., Petoe, M. A., Piras, F., Raju, S., Ramos-Murguialday, A., Revill, K. P., Roberts, P., Robertson, A. D., Schambra, H. M., Seo, N. J., Shiroishi, M. S., Soekadar, S. R., Spalletta, G., Stinear, C. M., Suri, A., Tang, W. K., Thielman, G. T., Thijs, V. N., Vecchio, D., Wang, J., Ward, N. S., Westlye, L. T., Winstein, C. J., Wittenberg, G. F., Wong, K. A., Yu, C., Wolf, S. L., Cramer, S. C., & Thompson, P. M.  Non-lesioned subcortical brain volumes are associated with post-stroke sensorimotor behavior across 28 cohorts worldwide: An ENIGMA Stroke Recovery analysis. Brain Communications (accepted). Pre-print available:
  • Cotter G., Khlif, M.S., Bird L., Howard M.E., Brodtmann A., Egorova-Brumley N. Post-stroke fatigue is linked to resting state posterior hypoactivity and prefrontal hyperactivity. International Journal of Stroke (Accepted). Pre-print available:
  • Dhollander, T., Clemente, A., Singh, M., Boonstra, F., Civier, O., Juan F. D. D., Egorova N., Enticott P., Fuelscher I., Gajamange S., Genc S., Gottlieb E., Hyde C., Imms P., Kelly C., Kirkovski M., Kolbe S., Liang X., Malhotra A., Mito R., Poudel G., Silk T.J., Vaughan D.N., Zanin J., Raffelt D., Caeyenberghs, K. Fixel-based Analysis of Diffusion MRI: Methods, Applications, Challenges and Opportunities. NeuroImage 241, 118417 (2021).
  • Siddiqi S.H., Schaper F., Horn A., Hsu J., Padmanabhan J.L., Brodtmann A., Cash R.F.H, Corbetta M., Choi K.S, Dougherty D.D., Egorova N., Fitzgerald P.B., George M.S., Gozzi S., Irmen F., Kuhn A., Johnson K.A., Naidech A.M., Pascual-Leone A., Phan T.G., Rouhl R.P.W., Taylor S.F., Voss J.L., Zalesky A., Grafman J.F., Mayberg H.S., Fox M.D. Convergent causal mapping of neuropsychiatric symptoms using brain stimulation and brain lesions. Nature Human Behaviour (Accepted).
  • Khlif M.S., Bird L. , Restrepo C., Khan W., Werden E., Egorova N., Brodtmann A. Hippocampal subfield volumes are associated with verbal memory following first-ever ischemic stroke. Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring (Accepted).
  • Gottlieb E., Khlif M.S., Bird L., Werden E., Churchward T., Pase M.P., Egorova N., Howard M.E., Brodtmann A. Sleep architectural dysfunction and undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea after chronic ischemic stroke. Sleep Medicine (2021).


  • Veldsman M., Werden E., Egorova N., Khlif M.S., Brodtmann A. Microstructural degeneration underlies executive dysfunction after stroke. Scientific Reports (2020).
  • Gottlieb E., Churchward T., Werden E., Churilov L., Pase M., Egorova N., Howard M., Brodtmann A. Sleep-Wake Parameters Can Be Detected in Chronic Stroke Patients Using A Multi-Sensor Accelerometer: A Validation Study. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine 17(2):167-175 (2020).
  • Brodtmann A., Khlif M.S., Egorova N., Veldsman M., Bird L., Werden E. Dynamic regional brain atrophy rates in the first year after ischemic stroke. Stroke (2020).
  • Egorova N., Dhollander T., Khlif M.S., Khan W., Werden E., Brodtmann A. Pervasive white matter fibre degeneration in ischaemic stroke. Stroke 51:1507–1513.
  • Khan W., Egorova N., Khlif M.S., Mito R., Dhollander T., Brodtmann A. Three-tissue compositional analysis reveals in-vivo microstructural heterogeneity of white matter hyperintensities following stroke. Neuroimage Apr 22:116869 .
  • Gottlieb E.Egorova N., Khlif M, Khan W., Werden E., Pase M., Howard M., Brodtmann A. Regional neurodegeneration correlates with sleep-wake dysfunction after stroke. Sleep, Mar 28. pii: zsaa054.
  • Egorova N., Benedetti F., Gollub R.L., Kong J. Between placebo and nocebo: response to control treatment is mediated by amygdala activity and connectivity. European Journal of Pain, 24:3, 580-592.


  • Egorova N., Liem F., Hachinski V., Brodtmann A. Predicted brain age after stroke. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, , 11:348.
  • Khlif MS., Werden E., Egorova N., Bocardi M.,Redolfi A., Bird L., Brodtmann A. Assessment of longitudinal hippocampal atrophy in the first year after ischemic stroke using automatic segmentation. Neuroimage: Clinical,  2019, 24:102008.
  • Padmanabhan J.L., Cooke D., Joutsa J., Siddiqi S.H., Ferguson M., Darby R.R., Soussand L., Horn A., Kim N.Y., Voss J.L., Naidech A.M., Brodtmann A., Egorova N., Gozzi S., Phan T.G., Corbetta M., Grafman J., Fox M.D. A human depression circuit derived from focal brain lesions. Biological Psychiatry, 2019, 86:10, 749-758.
  • Werden E., Khlif M.S., Bird L.J., Cumming T., Bradshaw J., Khan W., Pase M., Restrepo C., Veldsman M., Egorova N., Patel S.K., Gottlieb E., Brodtmann A. APOE e4 Carriers Show Delayed Recovery of Verbal Memory and Smaller Entorhinal Volume in the First Year After Ischemic Stroke. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2019, 71(1), 245-259.
  • Egorova N., Gottlieb E., Khlif M.S., Spratt N., Brodtmann A. Choroid plexus volume after stroke. International Journal of Stroke, 2019, 17:1747493019851277.
  • Khlif MS., Egorova N., Werden E., Redolfi A., Bocardi M., DeCarli CS., Fletcher E, Singh B., Li Q., Bird L., Brodtmann A. A comparison of automated segmentation and manual tracing in estimating hippocampal volume in ischemic stroke and healthy control participants. Neuroimage: Clinical, 2019, 21, 101581.
  • Tu Y., Park J., Ahlfors S.P., Khan S., Egorova N., Lang C., Cao J., Kong J. A neural mechanism of direct and observational conditioning for placebo and nocebo responses. Neuroimage, 2019, 184, 954-963.


  • Brodtmann A., Egorova N. The evaluation of pain in the aphasic patient. Neurology, 2018, 91:9, 377-378.
  • Egorova N., Cumming T., Shirbin C., Veldsman M., Werden E., Brodtmann A. Lower cognitive control network connectivity in stroke participants with depressive features. Translational Psychiatry, 2018, 7.
  • Hervais-Adelman A., Egorova N. , Golestani N. Beyond Bilingualism: multilingual experience correlates with caudate volume. Brain Structure and Function, 2018, 223:7, 3495–3502.

Research Projects

For project inquiries, contact our research group head.

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Cognitive Psychology and Behavioural Neuroscience

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Director Natalia Egorova

Department / Centre

Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences

Unit / Centre

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