The Leknes Affective Brain Lab

L.A.B. lab is dedicated to the study of one of the world’s great mysteries: how the brain and body give rise to subjective feelings. Electrical and chemical signals in the physical brain give rise to experiences such as the pleasure we experience when we take a sip of wine or reunite with our loved ones. But how this happens is still poorly understood.

The Leknes Affective Brain lab uses cognitive, social and affective neuroscience methods to probe the hedonic* brain. Most of our work involves drugs: we study the effects of medications that bind to receptors in the brain. Using drugs that activate of block opioid receptors, we map out the functions of the brain’s own opioid system (‘endorphins’) and the effects of commonly used opioid analgesics. We believe that understanding how the healthy human brain encodes subjective and objective value is crucial for improving treatment of e.g. substance use disorder and chronic pain.

Much of our work is translational, aiming to fill the knowledge gap between rodent models and patient studies. Increasingly, we also study effects of medication use in different clinica lpopulations. These pages aim to provide a brief overview of our work, introducing people, projects, methodology and PDFs of all our publications.

LAB lab in June 2020. From left: alumnus Dan-Mikael Ellingsen, grad students Guro Løseth & Martin Trøstheim, postdoc Marie Eikemo, RA Bendik Erdal, postdocs Silvana De Pirro & Isabell Meier, study physician Alexandra Tucovic, MA students Vegard Wathne Tangen, Claudia Pazmandi, Andreas Dahl, Herman Bjørnstad, intern Johannes Sletten.

*What does hedonic mean? It refers to a particular quality of a feeling, i.e. if it is good or bad. The sting of chilli is hot, sharp – and depending on your preferences, it can feel very pleasant or rather aversive, or even give rise to seemingly contradictory feelings such as pleasurable pain.