Siri Graff Leknes
How does the brain create subjective experiences? What happens in the nervous system that makes us perceive something as good or bad, pleasant or painful? My research uses a variety of cognitive, affective and social neuroscience techniques to answer this fundamental question. This is my wonderful team (the Hedonic Pharmacology group).
My current and previous research projects revolve around the subjective hedonic feelings associated with rewards and punishments, social reward, and individual differences in the subjective experience of pain and pleasure. The research techniques I use include psychopharmacological studies, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and psychophysical investigations using self-report and autonomic measures. My research has implications for treatment of alcohol and drug addiction, chronic pain and other mental and physical health problems.
Higher education and employment history
- I am a cognitive neuroscientist, working as a Research fellow at the Department of Psychology.
- From 2008-2010 I worked as a postdoc at the universities of Gothenburg and Oslo, mentored by Professors Håkan Olausson and Bruno Laeng.
- I completed my D.Phil. on ‘Pain, Pleasure and Relief’ at the Oxford Centre for Functional Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB) in spring 2008, supervised by Professor Irene Tracey.
- My academic training includes masters’ and doctorate degrees in Neuroscience (Oxford University, UK) and a bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science (Exeter University, UK).
- Associate editor, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
- Associate editor, Scandinavian Journal of Pain
Current active international collaborations:
- Professors Håkan Olausson and Johan Wessberg, and Dan-Mikael Ellingsen at the University of Gothenburg (Social touch, pain and emotion)
- Dr. Chantal Berna, Professor Irene Tracey et al. at the University of Oxford and Harvard (The role of endogenous opioid signalling for pain and emotion)
- Professor David Bain and colleagues at the University of Glasgow (The philosophy and neuroscience of pain and suffering)
- Dr. Brock Bastian at the University of Queensland (The social psychology and positive consequences of pain)
- Dr. Lars Westberg at the University of Gothenburg (Role of oxytocin in social cognition)
Bastian B, Jetten Y, Hornsey MJ, Leknes S. (In press) The positive consequences of physical pain: A biopsychosocial approach. Personality and Social Psychology Review
Chelnokova O, Laeng B, Eikemo M, Riegels J, Løseth G, Maurud H, Willoch F, Leknes S (In press) Rewards of Beauty: The Opioid System Mediates Social Motivation in Humans. Molecular Psychiatry PDF
Leknes S, Bastian B (in press). The benefits of pain. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, special issue on Pain and Pleasure edited by Bain D and Brady M. PDF
Leknes S, Bastian B (in press). How does pain affect eating and food pleasure? Pain
Ellingsen D-M, Wessberg J, Eikemo M, Olausson H, Linjenkrantz J, Endestad T, Leknes S. (In Press). Improving Pleasure And Pain By Placebo: Opposite Modulation Of Sensory Processing Mediated By Common Emotion Appraisal. PNAS PDF
Ellingsen D-M, Wessberg J, Laeng B, Chelnokova O, Olausson H, Leknes S. (2014). In touch with your emotions: Oxytocin and touch change social impressions while others’ facial expressions can alter touch. Psychoneuroendocrinology 39: 11-20, PDF
Ellingsen D-M, Leknes S. (2013) Placebo gav lindrad smärta, men också ökad njutning. Läkartidningen. 2013;110:CLEF PDF
Ellingsen D-M, Leknes S. (In Press). Kan vi snu smerteopplevelsen fra vond til god? Forventninger, kontekst og lettelse påvirker smerte. BestPractice Smerte.
Leknes, S, Berna, C, Lee, MC, Snyder, G, Biele, G, Tracey, I. Response to the commentary “Multiple potential mechanisms for context effects on pain”. Pain 154:1485-1486, 2013 PDF
Løseth G, Ellingsen D-M, Chapter Leknes, S. (2013) Touch and Pain. In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psychology. Champaign, IL: DEF Publishers. DOI: www.nobaproject.com. PDF
Leknes, S, Berna, C, Lee, MC, Snyder, G, Biele, G, Tracey, I. (2013) The importance of context: when relative relief renders pain pleasant. Pain. 154:402-410 PDF
Leknes S., Wessberg J., Ellingsen D.-M., Chelnokova O., Olausson H., Laeng B. (2013) Oxytocin enhances pupil dilation and sensitivity to “hidden” emotional expressions. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. I PDF
Wanigasekera V, Lee M, R, Andersson J, Leknes S, Rogers Tracey I. (2012) Baseline reward circuitry activity and trait reward responsiveness predicts expression of opioid analgesia in healthy subjects. PNAS. 109:17705-17710. PDF
Leknes, S., Lee, M. C., Berna, C. Andersson, J., Tracey, I. (2011) Relief as a reward: hedonic and neural responses to safety from pain. PLoS ONE 6:e17870 PDF
Leknes, S. (2011) The pain modulatory cocktail. Scandinavian Journal of Pain 2:105-107 PDF
Berna, C. Leknes, S., Holmes, E.A. Edwards, R.A., Goodwin, G.G., Tracey, I. (2010) Induction of Depressed Mood Disrupts Emotion Regulation Neurocircuitry and Enhances Pain Unpleasantness. Biological Psychiatry 67: 1083-1090 PDF
Leknes, S. and Tracey, I. Pain and pleasure: masters of mankind. (2010) In: Pleasures of the brain: the neural basis of sensory rewards, pp 320-335. Edited by Kringelbach, M and Berridge, K: Oxford University Press. PDF
Leknes, S., Brooks, J., Wiech, K., Andersson, J., and Tracey, I. (2008) Pain relief as an opponent process: a psychophysical investigation. European Journal of Neuroscience. 28: 794-801 PDF
Leknes, S., and Tracey, I. (2008) A common neurobiology for pain and pleasure. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 9 (4):314-320 .PDF
Leknes, S. and Tracey, I.(2007) Hippocampus/entorhinal complex, functional imaging during pain. In Encyclopedic Reference of Pain. Edited by Willis W and Schmidt R: Verlag-Springer. PDF
Leknes, S.G., Bantick, S., Willis, C.M., Wilkinson, J.D., Wise, R.G. and Tracey, I. (2007) Itch and motivation to scratch: an investigation of the central and peripheral correlates of allergen- and histamine-induced itch in humans. Journal of Neurophysiology 97: 415-422. PDF