Jon Brooks


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Studying descending pain control mechanisms in fibromyalgia with advanced neuroimaging techniques

Personal profile


I'm an Associate Professor within the School of Psychology. My main role as Head of MRI is supporting researchers/students from across the University make use of the MRI scanner at the UEA Wellcome Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre. Don't let the name fool you, the scanner is a whole-body imaging system capable of imaging any part of the body, however the main focus within School is in the field of Neuroscience. My main research focus is on the study of pain, both as perceived by healthy controls and in patients suffering from chronic pain conditions. In particular, I focus on studying how the brain, brainstem and spinal cord work in conjunction to control the flow of pain-related information to and from the brain. A recent article by former PhD student Valeria Oliva (now at the Italian National Institute of Health), demonstrating how we leveraged advanced neuroimaging techniques to simultaneously study the entire central nervous system's involvement in attentional control of pain, can be found here.

Within the UEA I work closely with colleagues from the School of Health Sciences, Professor Val Pomeroy, Elizabeth (Liz) Chandler and Jacob Wells on projects relating to rehabilitation following stroke. With colleagues from Norwich Medical School (Dr Jordan Tsigarides) and the School of Psychology (Dr Jennifer Bowler) we are looking to establish a new network connecting researchers from across UEA with clinical colleagues at NNUH, who are working in the broad field of pain. If you think this relates to you, please do get in touch

Beyond UEA, I collaborate with other pain researchers to study its affect on the human nervous system. I continue to work with former colleague Professor Tony Pickering (University of Bristol) and Professor Irene Tracey (University of Oxford).

I have strong links with former colleague Dr Falk Eippert at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany - with whom I have worked closely when developing functional imaging of the human spinal cord. I continue to work with researchers Professor Nanna Brix Finnerup and Dr Francesca Fardo at the Danish Pain Research Center at Aarhus University, Denmark where we are studying spinal cord response to painful phantom limbs in amputees.

A former post-doc from my lab, Professor Yazhuo (Joe) Kong, has moved on to run their own lab in Beijing, China - using techniques we developed together in Oxford e.g. resting state fMRI of the spinal cord to study the effects of transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) for the relief of pain. We continue to collaborate on projects relating to spinal cord imaging.

Academic Background

Associate Professor at the University of East Anglia (2021- ).

Role: Head of MRI supporting researchers use the MRI scanner at the UEA Wellcome Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre (UWWBIC). Teaching on the MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience. Supervised one PhD and one MSc student.

Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol (2011-2020).

Role: supporting researchers use the MRI at the Clinical Research and Imaging Centre (CRiCBristol). Undergraduate teaching for the School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience and the School of Psychological Science. Supervised one MD, four PhD and ten MSc students.

University Research Lecturer at the University of Oxford (2008-2011).

Role: delivering my research supported by the Medical Research Council, working as part of the Pain Group at the Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB) lead by Professor Irene Tracey. Supervised two MSc students and taught on the FMRIB Graduate Programme.

Research Fellow at the University of Oxford (2002-2007).

Role: post-doctoral researcher in the Pain Group at the Department of Physiology and Genetics, lead by Professor Irene Tracey. Supervised one DPhil student and taught students on analysis and pain.

Research Assistant at the University of Liverpool (2000-2002).

Role: post-doctoral researcher working at the Pain Research Institute lead by Professor Turo Nurmikko.

Areas of Expertise

  • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Advanced neuroimaging techniques (spinal cord imaging, diffusion weighted imaging)
  • Pain assessment (e.g. using Quantitative Senory Testing)
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Image Analysis (using FSL, SPM, AFNI, SCT)
  • Programming (Python, Matlab, C++, shell scripting)
  • Statistics (SPSS, R)

Teaching Interests

Practical Skills for MRI Research (PSY-7017A)

This module takes students from the MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience, and provides them with a background to understanding functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), developing experiments to examine the brain's response to stimulation with fMRI, programming experiments using Python-based software, interfacing hardware with the MRI, interpretting the output from stimulus software, analysing fMRI data, reporting Methods and Results in the form of journal articles and conference posters.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Liverpool

1 Oct 19941 Jun 1999

Award Date: 1 Oct 1999

Master of Science, University of London

1 Oct 199331 Aug 1994

Award Date: 1 Oct 1994

Bachelor of Science, Durham University

1 Oct 19901 Jun 1993

Award Date: 30 Jun 1993

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or