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Find out more about the Poppi Trial  - a Randomised Controlled Trial investigating the analgesic efficacy of morphine in premature infants.


Rebeccah Slater is an Associate Professor of Paediatric Neuroimaging and a Senior Wellcome Trust Research Fellow. She is also a Fellow of Green Templeton College.

Rebeccah studied Physics (BSc) at Imperial College and Neuroscience (MSc) at UCL, and in 2007 was awarded her PhD at UCL under the supervision of Prof Maria Fitzgerald. Since 2012 she has lead The Paediatric and Infant Pain & Anaesthesia (PiPA) research group, which focuses on understanding the mechanisms that underlie the development of pain perception in the human infant. She uses a range of non-invasive brain imaging tools, including EEG and fMRI, to explore the development of pain perception in the human nervous system.

She has published many articles about infant pain and has been passionately involved in science communication and the public engagement of science. She has taken part in numerous discussions on TV and radio, including BBC Radio 4, The BBC World Service and Horizon. Rebeccah continues her research at the John Radcliffe Children’s Hospital and the Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB) to improve our understanding of the measurement and treatment of infant pain.

Rebeccah Slater


Associate Professor of Paediatric Neuroimaging

  • Senior Wellcome Trust Research Fellow

Understanding the mechanisms that drive the development of pain perception in the human infant

Pain in infancy has negative long-term consequences and its prevention is a clinical priority, but adequate treatment requires mechanistic understanding of the structural and functional development of human nociceptive circuitry.

My research group aims to understand the mechanisms that drive and modulate pain perception in early human development. Recent scientific advances provide insights into how noxious information is transmitted to the infant brain, providing a platform to ask how intrinsic brain network connectivity and the environment affect noxious-evoked brain activity, behaviour and ultimately pain perception in the developing infant nervous system.

We are investigating whether inherent differences in how the brain behaves at rest influence variability in noxious-evoked activity, and will determine how this relationship is altered by environmental factors and pathology. We want to understand how the development of structural and functional network connectivity alters noxious-evoked brain activity, and influences the dynamic relationship between brain activity and behaviour.

The overarching goal is that this developmental understanding will  translate into the improved treatment of infant pain in premature and term-born infants.


How do babies feel pain?