Dr Patrick Finan
Ph.D., Harold Carron Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Virginia School of Medicine, USA
Patrick H. Finan, PhD, is the Harold Carron Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He is a clinical pain psychologist and an expert in cognitive, behavioral, and affective mechanisms and treatments for chronic pain.
He has an active NIH-funded research program that utilizes laboratory (e.g. experimental sleep disruption; quantitative sensory testing; fMRI), ambulatory (e.g. actigraphy; EEG; ecological momentary assessment), and psychotherapeutic intervention (e.g. meditation; cognitive-behavioral therapy) methodologies to probe mechanisms related to chronic pain. Dr. Finan is an Associate Editor for PAIN and is actively involved in committees for the United States Association for the Study of Pain, the International Association for the Study of Pain, and the Winter Conference on Brain Research.
Dr. Finan’s research interests include the biobehavioral features of emotion regulation in individuals with chronic pain. A major focus of his research to date has centered on the measurement and analysis of dynamic measures of pain and emotion captured in the course of daily life. We employ laboratory tools, such as quantitative sensory testing and sleep deprivation, to investigate the reproducibility of information gathered in daily life. We are currently developing behavioral (e.g., sleep behaviors) and neurobiological (e.g., dopaminergic neurotransmission) models to understand the influence of positive emotion and reward processing on pain sensitivity and coping with chronic pain. In the long term, our aim is to improve treatment options for individuals with chronic pain, including those with comorbid substance use disorders.
Pain and Emotion
Pain was traditionally conceptualized as a biobehavioral phenomenon that principally interacted with negative valence systems, for example as antecedent or sequelae to negative affective states. However, research has begun to reveal the dialectical interactions between pain and reward, which have been observed across multiple levels of analysis, including experimental, observational, and interventional paradigms. Although behavioral and biological reward deficits appear to be associated with risk for chronic pain, interventions that augment positive emotions and reward functioning may ameliorate that risk. Dr. Finan will discuss the literature supporting this premise, and present recent data from his lab demonstrating the ability for highly positively emotional experiences to engender pain relief. Additionally, he will describe the rationale, design, and results of a recently completed mechanistic clinical trial in which patients with chronic pain were trained to practice a brief, novel positive emotion-enhancing meditation (called Savoring Meditation) for the purpose of pain self-management.
Despite a clear understanding that sleep and pain consistently covary in patients with clinical pain, we have not yet translated that knowledge to produce interventions that harness sleep protocols to reliably enhance pain relief. This may be due to our limited understanding of mechanisms accounting for the association of sleep and pain relief. Dr. Finan will discuss a mechanistic model that posits reward processing as a critical mechanistic link between sleep and pain, and will review experimental, longitudinal, and clinical trials data from his lab and others in support of this premise. The goal of this talk will be to engage with the audience to discuss ways in which existing cognitive, behavioral, and pharmacological treatment of insomnia can be optimized to address deficits in reward processing, with the end goal of producing stronger and more durable experiences of pain relief.