DR SYLVIA GUSTIN

Senior Neuroscientist & Psychologist
Gustin Pain Imaging Laboratory

School of Psychology UNSW
Please see my profile on UNSW
Neuroscience Research Australia

For the past 19 years Dr Sylvia Gustin has been using brain imaging techniques and psychological assessment to investigate the central and psychological circuits underlying chronic pain in humans.

I have experience in the use of many brain imaging techniques such as magnetoencephalography and functional, structural and biochemical magnetic resonance imaging.

I have practised as a psychologist focusing on the management of chronic pain.

My aim is to increase our understanding of the development and maintenance of chronic pain, in particular psychological and central components and their association with each other.

ABOUT SYLVIA

2016; Pain and the Brain: Understanding and modulating the critical brain mechanisms that underlie chronic pain, 2017, Al & Val Rosenstrauss Fellowship, (400, 000A$)
Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation

2014; CIA NHMRC project grant; Identifying the neural signature of persistent pain, School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Australia  (530,105 A$)

2014; Bridging Grant, University of Sydney, Australia  (30,000 A$)

2013; Mackintosh Grant, University of Sydney, Australia  (15,000 A$)

2010; Early Career Researcher Grant, University of Sydney, Australia (22,000 A$)

2009; Career Development Fellowship, NSW Spinal Cord Injury and Related Neurological Conditions Research Grant Program  (580,783 A$)

2005; BMBF project grant; Cortical reorganization in patients with complex regional pain syndrome: Effect of a somatosensory training, Institute of Medical Psychology & Behavioural Neurobiology, University of Tubingen, Germany  (207,876 Euro)

2005; Research fellowship, German Academic Exchange Service  (7,502 Euro)

2006; PhD in Psychology, Department of Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, School of Psychology, University of Tubingen, Germany; Doctoral thesis: Therapy-induced cortical reorganization and analgesia in patients with neuropathic pain – a fMRI and MEG study; Supervisor: Prof. Niels Birbaumer

2002; Master in Psychology, Department of Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, School of Psychology, University of Tubingen, Germany; Master thesis: Hemispheric differences in pre- and post-operative testing, between neuropsychological factors and magnetically evoked fields in patients with space-occupation close to the central sulcus; Supervisor: Prof. Niels Birbaumer

1997; Bachelor in Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Tubingen, Germany

2015; Senior Research Fellow, Gustin Pain Imaging Laboratory, School of Psychology and Neuroscience Research Australia, University of New South Wales, Australia
Please see my profile on UNSW

2014; Lecturer for Social Psychology (PSYC313) at the national School of Psychology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University (ACU)

2009-2014; Career Development Fellowship (NSW Spinal Cord Injury and Related Neurological Conditions Research Grant Program), Project: Examination into the long-term clinical effectiveness of transcranial direct current stimulation in patients with neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury, Pain Management Research Institute and Department of Anatomy & Histology, University of Sydney, Australia

2007-2014; Lecturer for Neuroscience Seminar Series for senior students (Integrative Neuroscience NEUR3004, NEUR3904), Department of Anatomy & Histology, University of Sydney, Australia

2007-2009; Postdoctoral Researcher, Project 1: psychological factors and brain alterations underlying orofacial pain, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Sydney; project 2: psychological factors and brain mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury, Pain Management Research Institute, University of Sydney, Australia

2003-2006; Psychologist (part-time) at the International Vocational Training Centre, Stuttgart, Germany.Role: Psychological assessment, psychological diagnosis and cognitive behavioural therapy and treatment with students with behavioural, cognitive or social challenges between 15-30 years

2003; Clinical Placement at the Pain Management & Research Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital,  Sydney, Australia

2002; Clinical Placement at the German Red Cross Centre, Mainz, Germany

2002-2006; Associate Lecturer for undergraduate/graduate students in Neural & Behavioural Sciences, Institute of Medical Psychology & Behavioural Neurobiology, University of Tuebingen, Germany

2002-2006; Research Fellow; Project 1: Effects on cortical organization and psychological variables in patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), when the NMDA-receptor antagonist is combined with morphine; project 2: Cortical reorganization in patients with CRPS: Effect of a somatosensory training, Institute of Medical Psychology & Behavioural Neurobiology, University of Tubingen, Germany

1999-2001; Training as Hypnotherapist, Milton Erickson Institute for Hypnotherapy, Germany

1999-2001; Research Associate; Project: Cortical reorganization after amputation in humans, Institute of Medical Psychology & Behavioural Neurobiology, University of Tubingen, Germany

1998-1999; Research Associate; Project: Neuropsychological testing in patients after unilateral parietal and premotor lesions, School of Psychology, Department of Neuropsychology, University of Freiburg, Germany

1997-1998; Research Associate; Project: The role of operant conditioning in the development of chronic low back pain, Institute of Medical Psychology & Behavioural Neurobiology, University of Tubingen, Germany

researchgateicon36To view and download Sylvia’s Publications, visit her profile on Research Gate. Please follow her for updates.

Schmid A.C., Schwarz A., Gustin, S.M., Greenspan, J.D., Hummel, F.C. and Birbaumer, N. (2016) Pain reduction due to novel sensory-motor training in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome I – a pilot study, Scandinavian Journal of Pain, accepted.

Gustin S.M., Burke L., Peck C.C., Murray G.M., and Henderson L.A. (2016) Pain and Personality: Do individuals with different forms of chronic pain exhibit a mutual personality? Pain Practice, 16(4):486-494.

Wilcox S.L., GustinS.M., MaceyP.M., Peck C.C., Murray G.M., Henderson L.A. (2015) Anatomical changes within the medullary dorsal horn in chronic temporomandibular disorder pain. Neuroimage, doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.05.014

Wilcox S., Gustin S.M., Macey P., Peck C.C., Murray G.M., and Henderson L.A. (2015) Anatomical changes at the level of the primary synapse in neuropathic pain: evidence from the spinal trigeminal nucleus. Journal of Neuroscience, 11;35(6):2508-15.

Gustin, S.M., Peck, C.C., Cheney, L., Murray, G.M. and Henderson, L.A. Pain and Plasticity: Is chronic pain always associated with somatosensory cortex activity and reorganization? Journal of Neuroscience, 32(43): 14874-14884.

Gustin, S.M., Wrigley,P.J., Youssef,A.M., McIndoe,L., Wilcox,S., Rae,C.D., Edden,R., Siddall,P.J., Henderson,L.A. (2014) Thalamic activity and biochemical changes in individuals with neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury. Pain, 155(5): 1027-36.

Youssef A.M., Gustin S.M., Nash PJ, Reeves J.M., Petersen E.T., Peck C.C., Murray G.M. and Henderson L.A. (2014) Differential brain activity in subjects with painful trigeminal neuropathy and painful temporomandibular disorder. Pain, 155(3): 467-75.

Gustin, S.M., Peck, C., Macey, P.M., Murray, G.M.and Henderson, L.A. (2013) Unraveling the effects of plasticity and pain on personality. Journal of Pain, 14:1642-1652

Wrigley, P.J., Gustin, S.M., McIndoe, L. Chakiath, R.J., Henderson, L.A. and Siddall, P.J. (2013) Long standing neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury is refractory to transcranial direct current stimulation: a randomized controlled trial. Pain, 154: 2178-2184.

Henderson, L.A., Peck, C.C., Petersen, E.T., Rae, C., Youssef, A., Reeves, J., Wilcox S.L., Akhter, R., Murray, G.M. and Gustin, S.M. Chronic pain – lost inhibition? Journal of Neuroscience, 33(17):7574-82.

Wilcox, S.L., Gustin, S.M., Eykman, E.N., Fowler, G., Peck, C.C., Murray, G.M. and Henderson, L.A. (2013) Trigeminal nerve anatomy in neuropathic and non-neuropathic orofacial pain patients. Journal of Pain, 14(8):865-72.

Gustin, S.M., Peck, C.C., Cheney, L., Murray, G.M. and Henderson, L.A. Pain and Plasticity: Is chronic pain always associated with somatosensory cortex activity and reorganization? Journal of Neuroscience, 32(43): 14874-14884.

Gustin, S.M., Peck, C.C., Wilcox, S.L., Nash, P.G, Murray, G.M. and Henderson, L.A. (2011). Different pain, different brain: thalamic anatomy in neuropathic and non-neuropathic chronic pain syndromes. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(16): 5956 – 64.

Gustin, S.M., Wilcox, S.L., Peck, C.C., Murray, G.M. and Henderson L.A. (2011). Similarity of suffering: equivalence of psychological and psychosocial factors in neuropathic and non-neuropathic orofacial pain patients. Pain, 152(4): 825 – 832.

Henderson, L.A., Gustin, S.M., Macey, P.M., Wrigley, P.J. and Siddall, P.J. (2011). Functional reorganization of the brain in humans following spinal cord injury: Evidence for underlying changes in cortical anatomy. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(7): 2630 – 2637.

Gustin, S.M., Schwarz, A., Birbaumer, N., Sines, N., Schmidt, A.C., Veit, R., Larbig, W., Flor, H. and Lotze, M. (2010). NMDA-receptor antagonist and morphine decrease CRPS-pain and cerebral pain representation. Pain, 148(3): 438 – 445.

Nash, P.G., Macefield, V.G., Klineberg, I.J., Gustin, S.M., Murray, G.M. and Henderson, L.A. (2010). Changes in human primary motor cortex activity during acute cutaneous and muscle orofacial pain. Journal of Orofacial Pain, 24(3): 379 – 390.

Gustin, S.M., Wrigley, P.J., Henderson, L.A. and Siddall, P.J. (2010). Brain circuitry underlying pain in response to imagined movement in people with spinal cord injury. Pain, 14 (3): 438 – 445.

Gustin, S.M., Wrigley, P.J., Siddall, P.J. and Henderson, L.A. (2010). Brain anatomy changes associated with persistent neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury. Cerebral Cortex, 20(6): 1409–19.

Nash, P.G., Macefield, V.G., Klineberg, I.J., Gustin, S.M., Murray, G.M. and Henderson, L.A. (2010). Bilateral activation of the trigeminothalamic tract by acute orofacial cutaneous and muscle pain in humans. Pain, 151(2): 384 – 393.

Wrigley, P.J., Press, S.R., Gustin, S.M., Macefield, V.G., Gandevia, S.C., Cousins, M.J., Middleton, J.W., Henderson, L.A. and Siddall, P.J. (2009). Neuropathic pain and primary somatosensory cortex reorganization following spinal cord injury. Pain, 141: 52 -59.

Wrigley, P., Gustin, S.M., Macey, P.M, Macefield, V.G., Gandevia, S.C., Siddall, P.J. and Henderson, LA. Anatomical changes in human motor cortex and motor pathways following complete thoracic spinal cord injury Cerebral Cortex (2009) 19(1): 224 – 232.

Gustin, S.M., Wrigley, P.J., Gandevia, S.C., Middleton, J.W., Henderson, L.A. and Siddall, P.J. (2008). Movement imagery evokes pain in people with neuropathic pain following complete thoracic spinal cord injury. Pain, 137(2): 237 – 244.

Sinis, N., Birbaumer, N., Gustin, S.M., Schwarz, A., Bredanger, S., Becker, S.T., Unertl, K., Schaller, H.E. and Haerle, M. (2007). Memantine Treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: a preliminary report of six cases. Clin J Pain, 23(3): 237 – 243.

Sinis, N., Birbaumer, N., Schwarz, A., Gustin, S.M., Unertl, K., Schaller, H.E. and Haerle, M. (2006). Memantine and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): Effects of Treatment and Cortical Reorganisation. Handchir Mikrochir Plast Chir, 38: 164 – 171.

Schumann, G., Halsband, U., Kassubek, J., Gustin S.M., Heinks, T., Juengling, F.D. and Hüll M. (2000). Combined semantic dementia and apraxia in a patient with frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Psychiatry Res, 100(1): 21 -29.

Book chapters published

Gustin, S.M., Wilcox, S.L. and Henderson, L.A. (2012). Does every pain have its own psychology? A review of psychosocial components in chronic pain of different aetiologies in “Advances in Psychology Research”, Volume 95, Nova Science Publishers.

JOIN SYLVIA FOR NeuRA TALKS

AS SEEN IN THE MEDIA


Cyberhate With Tara Moss
Episode 2 The Power Of Words – 15th March 2017

ABC_Catalyst_Sylvia abc-science-logo ABC_Allinthemind
22nd March 2016 “When Pain Persists Article

Interview 1 | Interview 2

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What Are The Causes Of Chronic Pain?

 Unlocking the reasons for Neuropathic Pain in SCI

EXPLAINING SYLVIA’S WORK

Unlocking The Reasons for Chronic Pain

We have all experienced pain at some stage in our lives and anticipate pain as a consequence of injury. Despite this anticipation though we expect that with healing and time, pain will resolve. However, acute pain can persist for many months or years, becoming chronic in its nature; a prospect difficult for many of us to imagine.

People who suffer from chronic pain often don’t understand why they still have ongoing pain even though their injury has healed. Therefore, some of them ask me if there is a “pain centre” within our body, particularly in the brain, where pain is generated. One of my chronic pain patients actually quipped: “If you tell me where the pain hub is I will go to a surgeon and get them to cut it out”.

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer as multiple factors play a role in the development and the ongoing nature of chronic pain. Older theories about the causes of chronic pain focused on the periphery (e.g. damage in a body part) or on the processing of nociception (signals from the periphery that signal damage or the potential of damage) at the level of the spinal cord.  There now is consistent and compelling evidence that treatments based on these theories are not effective in reducing pain. Central brain processes are now recognised as playing a key role in the experience of pain.

I have been at the forefront of discovering the critical role of the brain in the development and sustainment of chronic neuropathic pain. We have shown that chronic neuropathic pain is associated with altered thalamic anatomy, biochemistry and activity. This can disturb central processing and play a key role in the persistent experience of ongoing pain. Our research shows that inhibitory brain cells (which are normally blocking out pain) within the thalamus stop functioning in individuals with ongoing pain. As a result the amount of GABA (the chief inhibitory messenger of neurologic information from one cell to another) is decreased. This loss of inhibition mean that the brain itself is altered which results in brain activity changes that then are perceived as pain. So the brain has lost its ability to inhibit sensory information, is more sensitive and therefore pain and sensory signals are amplified resulting in the experience of chronic pain.

In our present study we also found a decrease in GABA in the prefrontal cortex among people with chronic neuropathic pain. The prefrontal cortex is known to be involved in emotional processing. This decrease in GABA (which represents a loss of inhibition) might explain why people with chronic neuropathic pain also suffer from emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression. A loss of inhibition within the prefrontal cortex can mean that people with chronic pain can’t stop thinking about their pain and constantly anticipate pain with pessimistic, negative and fearful thoughts. They can’t stop these ruminations as the prefrontal cortex has lost parts of its ability to inhibit these thoughts.

In a new study we would like to target these brain alterations using a neuromodulatory approach that can provide pain relief via the primary source of pain: the human brain. We would like to modulate these functional, structural and biochemical changes via electroencephalography based neurofeedback which may lead to significant and sustained pain reduction. Neurofeedback teaches individuals to gain control over their brain states via electroencephalography biofeedback.

MEET SYLVIA

DR SYLVIA GUSTIN
DR SYLVIA GUSTINSenior Research Fellow

SKILLS AND EXPERTISE

fMRI Cognitive Neuroscience
Chronic Pain Voxel Based Morphometry
Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Magnetoencephalography
Neuroimaging Brain Stimulation
Brain Imaging Neuromodulation
Pain Assessment Neurostimulation
Pain Management Anesthetic Hypnosis
Imaging Clinical Psychology
Functional Neuroimaging  Perfusion Imaging

CONTACT DETAILS

Phone: (02) 9399 1894
Email Dr Sylvia M Gustin: sylvia@gustinpil.com

School of Psychology, University of New South Wales
Office: Neuroscience Research Australia, Room 2.06

MEET MY TEAM

Segar Suppiah
Segar SuppiahChief Radiographer
Segar is a highly experienced Radiographer using Siemens and Phillips systems with over 20 years experience.
Brooke Naylor
Brooke NaylorMasters in Clinical Psychology Student
Brooke is investigating how personality factors change the anatomy of the brain in people with chronic pain.
 Ian Skinner
Ian SkinnerPhD Student
Ian is investigating the test-retest reliability of eye tracking to detect attentional bias to threat-related words in healthy participants.
Matthew Bagg
Matthew BaggPhD Student
Matt investigates structural changes associated with chronic back pain.

Edel O'Hagan
Edel O'HaganPhD Student
Edel investigates how chronic pain is effected by sleep and visa versa.
David Kang
David KangILP student
David investigates biochemical changes associated with chronic pain.
Justine Lange
Justine LangeOnline Production & Communications
Justine is a Digital Specialist with over 20 years experience. She disseminates our research digitally and via direct marketing.
SYLVIA'S BRAIN
SYLVIA'S BRAIN

My vision is to change the lives of people with chronic pain
by the development of new therapies that can provide pain relief
via our primary source of pain: the human brain.

Dr Sylvia Gustin