Dr Sian Worthen

Dr Sian Worthern - LHS

Research Fellow


Research Group

Basic and Applied Neurosciences

Research Centre

Aston Brain Centre


I have used MEG to study cortical processing for over 10 years, initially looking at recognition memory during my PhD and now focusing on the neural correlates of pain processing.

In addition to a number of pain-related projects that I am currently running, as the Aston Brain Centre (ABC) MEG Research Fellow, I am responsible for creating and implementing an MEG Approved User Training programme. This programme will be established upon the completion of the new Aston Brain Centre in the summer of 2011.


Qualifications & Education

  • PhD in Neuroscience, Aston University, 2004
  • BSC (Hons) Psychology, University of York, 1999

Employment History

  • 2010 – date: Research Fellow, Aston Brain Centre, Aston University.
  • 2008-2009: Research Fellow, Psychology, Aston University.
  • 2007-2008: Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Queen Mary University of London and Aston University
  • 2004-2006 Post-Doctoral Research Associate, University of Manchester and Aston University

Research interests

  • Investigating effects of modulation of cortical pain responses through intensity and anticipation
  • Investigating the involvement of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and personality in pain processes; identifying psychological phenotypes.
  • Correlate real-time ANS measures with cortical activity obtained from the MEG in millisecond time-resolution.
  • Investigating cortical processing during electrical and thermal stimulation of distinct somatic regions (Collaboration with GSK, Cambridge)
  • Investigating cortical processing during visceral sensation and pain (collaboration with Queen Mary University of London)
  • Modulation of cortical responses to pain using pharmacology (collaboration with Queen Mary University of London)


  • Supported supervision of PhD (Dr Holly Rossiter, Graduated 2011) – “Oscillatory dynamics in the perception of pain using MEG”
  • MRes Project Supervision – “Investigating the variability in cortical responses to the cold-pressor test using MEG (graduated 2009)”; “Investigating the modulating effects of diazepam during a somatic pain and attention paradigm (graduated 2008)”

Membership of Professional Bodies

Member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) – Since 1999

Selected publications

  • Farmer, A.D., Coen, S.J., Kano, M., Worthen, S.F., Rossiter, H.E., Navqi, H., Scott, S.M., Furlong, P.L. & Aziz, Q. (2013). Psychological

    traits influence autonomic nervous system recovery following esophageal intubation in health and functional chest pain. Neurogastroenterology and Motility. Accepted July 2013.

  • Rossiter, H.E., Worthen, S.F., Witton, C., Hall, S.D. & Furlong, P.L. (2013). Gamma oscillatory amplitude encodes stimulus intensity in primary somatosensory cortex. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Accepted June 2013.

  • Farmer AD, Coen SJ, Kano M, Paine PA, Shwahdi M, Jafari J, Kishor J, Worthen SF, Rossiter HE, Kumari V, Williams SC, Brammer M, Giampietro VP, Droney J, Riley J, Furlong PL, Knowles CH, Lightman SL, Aziz, Q. (2013). Psychophysiological responses to pain identify reproducible human clusters. Pain Accepted May 2013. S0304-3959(13)00240-6. 10.1016/j.pain.2013.05.016. [Epub ahead of print]

  • Witton C., Patel T., Furlong P.L., Henning G.B., Worthen S.F., Talcott J.B. (2012). Sensory thresholds obtained from MEG data: cortical psychometric functions. NeuroImage; 63(3): 1249-1256.

  • Worthen, S.F., Hobson, A.R., Hall, S.D., Aziz, Q. & Furlong, P.L. (2011). Frequency specific encoding of anticipation and pain in the human somatosensory cortex: a magnetoencephalography study. European Journal of Neuroscience; 33(5): 946-959.

  • Hobson A.R., Chizh, B., Hicks, K., Aziz, Q., Worthen, S., Lawrence, P., Dewit, O., Boyle, Y. & Dukes, G. (2010). Neurophysiological evaluation of convergent afferents innervating the human esophagus and area of referred pain on the anterior chest wall. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol; 298(1): G31-6.

  • Adjamian, P., Worthen, S.F., Barnes, G.R., Chizh, B.A., Hobson, A.R., Hillebrand, A., Aziz, Q. & Furlong, P.L. (2009). Effective electromagnetic noise cancellation with beamformers and synthetic gradiometry in shielded and poorly-shielded environments. Journal of Neuroscience Methods; 178(1): 120-127.

  • Paine P, Worthen SF, Gregory LJ, Thompson DG, Aziz Q. (2009). Personality differences affect brainstem autonomic responses to visceral pain. Neurogastroenterology and Motility; 21(11): 1155-1163.

  • Paine, P.A. Kishor, J. Worthen, S.F., Gregory, L.J. & Aziz, Q. (2009). Exploring relationships for visceral and somatic pain with autonomic control and personality. Pain; 144(3) 236-244

  • Hobson, A.R., Furlong, P.L., Sarkar, S., Matthews, P.J.M., Willert, R.P., Worthen, S.F., Unsworth, B.J. & Aziz, Q. (2006). Neurophysiologic assessment of esophageal sensory processing in non-cardiac chest pain. Gastroenterology; 130: 80-88. 

  • Hobson A.R., Furlong P.L., Worthen S.F., Hillebrand A., Barnes G.R., Singh K.D & Aziz Q. (2005). Real-Time Imaging of Human Cortical Activity Evoked by Painful Esophageal Stimulation. .  Gastroenterology; 128: 610-619.