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About CNAP

About CNAP

The ambition of CNAP is to identify and modulate key features of human pain neuroplasticity. We keenly believe that this can be achieved through a systematic engineering approach, including provoking, probing and modulation of the dynamic neuroplastic properties of the pain system.

CNAP applies a basic research approach where new advanced biomedical provocation and probing platforms are being discovered and applied to study novel aspects of the human pain neuroplasticity. When an injury results in acute pain, the nervous system undergoes an adaptive neuroplastic response resulting in an increase in sensitivity. After some time, the pain neuroplasticity is normalized as the injury heals. In some cases, such neuroplastic processes fail to normalize during convalescence, and acute pain develops into chronic pain with hypersensitivity. The continuing pain after injury resolution may be caused by maladaptive pain neuroplasticity. In contrast, advantageous neuroplasticity permits the nervous system to cope with challenges such as maladaptive pain neuroplasticity to help returning to a pain-free state.

Interdisciplinary, international cooperation, and research training combined with the capacity of leading researchers is the core research philosophy of CNAP. Thus, all our research groups are highly interdisciplinary and include experts within e.g. biomedical engineering, neuropsychology, pharmacology, biophysics, and medicine. To secure international excellence, CNAP strives for an equal distribution between genders and between national and international staff.

Daily Management

CNAP is organised with a steering committee consisting of the four primary investigators (PIs) that each heads a Research Interest Group (RIG). Center Director, Professor Thomas Graven-Nielsen (Pain and Motor System Plasticity) is one of the PIs, the others being Professor Lars Arendt-Nielsen (Translational Pain Biomarkers), Professor Ole Kæseler Andersen (Integrative Neuroscience), and Professor Winnie Jensen (Neural Engineering and Neurophysiology). The steering committee is responsible for the day-to-day management, as the specific management of the research projects is handled in the RIGs. 

Research Interest Groups (RIGs)

Four thematic Research Interest Groups (RIGs) are established across disciplines and competences. Interaction across RIGs is facilitated by cross-RIG projects and RIG activities (e.g., seminars, journal clubs) open for all CNAP members.
Trainees are expected to spend time in other RIGs to learn about the different areas.
We believe that such an organisation facilitates a dynamic and inspiring research environment.

Further information about the RIGs.

CNAP Advisory Board

The external members of the advisory board are:

Prof.  Victoria Chapman, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Nottingham - Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre, United Kingdom
Prof. André Mouraux, Pain Research at the Institute of Neuroscience (IONS),  Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
Prof. Troels Staehelin Jensen, Department of Clinical Medicine – The Danish Pain Research Center, Aarhus University


All core functions in CNAP are physically established at the Department of Health Science and Technology (HST), The Faculty of Medicine, Aalborg University (AAU).

CNAP covers new initiatives which are in part spin-outs from the successful activities of the Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction (SMI), HST, AAU (formerly DNRF funded 1993).

Group picture, November 2019

Group picture, November 2018

Group picture, November 2017


Group picture, September 2016

Group picture, March 2015

Primary investigators

Professor Thomas Graven-Nielsen
Professor Lars Arendt-Nielsen
Professor Ole Kæseler Andersen
Professor Winnie Jensen
Professor Herta Flor
Professor Brian Cairns