Étudiant-chercheur étoile March 2015

Robert Bonin

Postdoctoral fellow in Cellular and Molecular Neurosciences
Université Laval and CRIUSMQ

Award-winning publicationA Spinal Analogue of Memory Reconsolidation Enables Reversal of Hyperalgesia

Published inNature Neuroscience


"Intractable pain is the single most common cause of disability, affecting more than 20% of the population world-wide, and directly contributing to depression and other mental health disorders. Part of the reason this number remains so high despite continuous advances in modern medicine is our lack of understanding of the changes occurring in pain processing relays that contribute to persistent pain. Indeed, many current treatment strategies simply depress neuronal activity and numb the pain rather than address the root causes of persistent pain. Our study reveals a new mechanism by which persistent pain may be directly manipulated. These findings represent a substantial shift in the understanding of reconsolidation as a property more broadly present throughout the central nervous system."

This publication describes a new paradigm for the role of neuronal plasticity in normal and pathological sensory processing. Robert Bonin demonstrates that pain sensitization can undergo a process similar to memory reconsolidation, by which memories are rendered labile and erasable after recall. He also shows that hyperalgesia can be erased at the spinal level after reactivation; which is a previously unknown fact. These data might translate into a novel therapeutic intervention for eliminating persistent pain by treating its root causes. The high-impact nature of the project has been acknowledged by Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Radio-Canada, ScienceDaily, Medical Xpress and PBS NOVA Next.