The National Institutes of Health awarded Dr. Benedict J. Kolber $2,631,263 for his project on the Impact of Amygdala Lateralization on Processing and Modulation of Bladder Pain. Finding new therapeutic targets for bladder pain is the primary goal of this project, as recent evidence suggests that the central amygdala in the brain may be a key locus for the interaction between visceral pain and anxiety, potentially driving chronic conditions like urologic chronic pelvic pain syndrome (UCPPS). By focusing on the amygdala, a brain area involved in both pain and emotion, this project hopes to discover more about the brain’s role in bladder pain. The long-term goal of this study is to determine the degree to which certain brain regions are in charge of initiating and maintaining the persistent pain and related emotional disorders that are present in urologic diseases.

By understanding how the amygdala functions in animal models’ bladder pain and the underlying physiology of human bladder discomfort, the goal(s) in this study will be achievable by pursuing three separate and relatable aims, which is first to discover how much left versus right amygdala lateralization changes when chronic bladder pain develops, second to modify particular amygdala efferent outputs to distinguish between distinct analgesic and hyperalgesic pathways, and third integrate both new and current physiology data to create a realistic three-dimensional computer model of the amygdala. If the project’s results are positive, the proposed studies will contribute to decreasing pain in individuals suffering from urologic chronic pelvic pain syndrome (UCPPS) and will continue the investigation of the role of the amygdala in therapies to help with bladder pain. Dr. Kolber’s project’s results will also make a significant contribution to the field of Neuroscience.