Janell Payano Sosa

Janell Payano Sosa


Area of Doctoral Study: Neuroscience (UMB)

Undergraduate Institute: University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

Research Advisor: Dr. David Seminowicz

Description of Research

I am interested in chronic pain as a women’s health issue. More specifically, my long-term scientific interests involve determining the organization of brain networks to develop enhanced diagnosis of chronic pain syndromes that affect mainly postmenopausal women such as burning mouth syndrome. My interest in this area of work stems from my previous study on the protective mechanisms of the brain that I performed in an undergraduate research lab with Dr. Weihong Lin. There, I was able to conduct molecular and behavioral research in transgenic mice for dissecting the role of the vomeronasal organ in the protection of olfactory neurons in the accessory olfactory bulb. As a pre-doctoral student in Dr. David Seminowicz lab, my research project has a strong focus on the relationships of brain networks involved in pain, cognitive control, and anxiety. Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, with cognitive, sensory, and emotional components. Therefore, to learn how the brain processes pain signaling after injury, or a negative social event, we use non-invasive imaging tools such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Electroencephalography (EEG), to determine the patterns of activation in the cingulate cortex, insular cortex, and somatosensory pathways. This analysis will provide a better understanding of functional and structural relationships between chronic pain, anxiety, and cognition, which could ultimately lead to improved interventions for chronic pain and anxiety disorders.