Selma Delgado-Gallén has been awarded the Juan Antonio Micó Prize for the Best Thesis on Pain

The Institut Guttmann researcher Selma Delgado-Gallén is one of the winners of the 1st edition of the Juan Antonio Micó Awards for Pain Research, organised by the Spanish Pain Society (SED) and the Grünenthal Foundation. The recognition includes a cash prize of 1,500 euros and attendance at the 20th Congress of the SED, to be held in León from 29 to 31 May 2024.

The awards aim to contribute to scientific development and improve the quality of life of people suffering from pain. Delgado-Gallén was awarded one of the prizes for the Best Thesis on Pain in clinical sciences, for her work Cognitive, emotional and neurobiological aspects in the perception of chronic pain, directed by Dolors Soler, psychologist at the Institut Guttmann, and Gabriele Cattaneo, neuropsychologist and researcher at the BBHI. The researcher developed her thesis, with which she obtained her PhD in Medicine, within the framework of the Barcelona Brain Health Initiative, a project aimed at learning and understanding how to maintain the health of the brain over time.

Dr. Delgado-Gallén's thesis focuses on the perception of pain and how this perception is highly variable, influenced by cognitive and emotional aspects (such as attention or catastrophism) and biological aspects (such as brain function). These factors influence the impact of pain and may be responsible for an inadequate response to different conventional treatments, such as medication or physiotherapy. The thesis therefore explores how the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of pain interact and how emotional and cognitive aspects play a role in its perception and chronicity.

Factors enhancing functional brain connectivity

The work was conducted with a sample of BBHI participants aged 40-65 years and shows that pain is associated with poorer mental health, cognitive ability and quality of life, among others. In this sense, cognitively stimulating activities, physical exercise and participation in social events can have positive effects on the functional connectivity of the brain, which could improve quality of life and reduce aspects such as catastrophism in patients with chronic pain.

The study also concludes that brain functioning and cognitive-affective aspects can be studied and used as prognostic markers for the evolution of pain in the medium term. Finally, it highlights that resilience and cognitive reserve, partially modifiable factors encompassed in the term brain health, may play an important role in breaking the cycle of chronic pain.