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Siri Graff Leknes

Research Fellow
Image of Siri Graff Leknes
Phone +47-92622872
Visiting address Forskningsveien 3A Harald Schjelderups hus 0373 Oslo
Postal address Psykologisk institutt Postboks 1094 Blindern 0317 Oslo

Academic interests

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 Intervention Centre, Oslo University Hospital.
  • 2010-2014 I was a Research fellow at the Department of Psychology, University of Oslo. I am now a guest researcher at 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 Sydney (The social psychology and positive consequences of pain)
  • Dr. Lars Westberg at the University of Gothenburg (Role of oxytocin in social cognition)
Tags: Cognitive psychology, Neuroscience, Neuropsychology, Social Psychology


Løseth G, Ellingsen, D-M, Leknes S (In Press) State-dependent µ-opioid Modulation of Social Motivation. Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience link

Jonassen R, Chelnokova O, Harmer C, Leknes S, Landrø, NI. (In Press) A Single dose of Antidepressant Alters Eye-Gaze Patterns across Face stimuli in Healthy Women. Psychopharmacology PDF

Bastian B, Jetten Y, Hornsey MJ, Leknes S. (2014) The positive consequences of physical pain: A biopsychosocial approach. Personality and Social Psychology Review 18: 256-279 PDF

Chelnokova O, Laeng B, Eikemo M, Riegels J, Løseth G, Maurud H, Willoch F, Leknes S (2014) Rewards of Beauty: The Opioid System Mediates Social Motivation in Humans. Molecular Psychiatry 19: 746-747 PDF

Leknes S, Bastian B (2014). The benefits of pain. Review of Philosophy and Psychology (Special issue on Pain and Pleasure): 57-70 PDF

Leknes S, Bastian B (2014). How does pain affect eating and food pleasure? Pain 155(4):652-3 PDF

Ellingsen D-M, Wessberg J, Eikemo M, Olausson H, Linjenkrantz J, Endestad T, Leknes S. (2013). Improving Pleasure And Pain By Placebo: Opposite Modulation Of Sensory Processing Mediated By Common Emotion Appraisal. PNAS 110(44):17993-17998 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. 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. (2013) Response to the commentary “Multiple potential mechanisms for context effects on pain”. Pain 154:1485-1486, 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: 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

Published Sep 21, 2010 10:04 AM - Last modified Dec 8, 2014 05:52 PM