Francis McGlone

Professor in Neuroscience, School of Natural Sciences & Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University

Visiting Professor, Institute of Psychology Health & Society, University of Liverpool

Contact: f.p.mcglone@ljmu.ac.uk  francis.mcglone@liverpool.ac.uk

Website: somaffect.org


Main research interests

As a basic neuroscientist I am primarily interested in the somatosensory system.

My primary area of research is characterising the role of afferent c-fibres in humans, investigating their role in pain, itch, and more concertedly the functional and affective properties of a novel class of c-fibres - C-tactile afferents. Techniques used in this research span single unit recordings with microneurography, psychophysical measurements, functional neuroimaging, and behavioural measures.


Biography

Obtained a BSc in Neurobiology from the University of Sussex (the 1st Neuroscience degree awarded in the UK) where I was also awarded a PhD for research into sensory processing in the brain employing neurophysiological, behavioural and neuroanatomical techniques.  At Manchester University (School of Medicine) I continued this ‘systems neuroscience’ approach, investigating the role of sensory input to the cerebellum, and effects of hypnotic drugs on sensory and cognitive function, employing electrophysiological techniques (EEG).  I then took up the position of Senior Neuroscientist at the Pain Research Institute, Department of Medicine, at the University of Liverpool, investigating mechanisms of neuropathic pain. 

I joined Unilever R&D in 1995 where I established a new science base - Cognitive Neuroscience - with the specific objective to understand and apply knowledge of the basic neurobiological processes underpinning sensation, and the central processes of perception, attention, emotion and action, of relevance to human grooming and feeding behaviours.  I introduced a number of new investigative techniques: iontophoresis, intradermal microdialysis, olfactometry, electrophysiology (EEG & EMG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), quantitative sensory testing (QST), behavioural approaches to study crossmodal attention and multisensory integration.  I established academic collaborations with major players in the field of Cognitive Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology at Universities in North America, Europe and Australia, with a general remit to understand the neurobiological links between sensation and affect. 

I left Unilever in 2009 to return to academia, and am currently Professor in Neuroscience in the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University. I also hold a visiting professorship at Liverpool University, from 2000 – 2008 was Special Professor at the Sir Peter Mansfield Magnetic Resonance Unit (SPMMRU), Nottingham University, and from 2012 – 2015 was Eminent Visiting Professor at the Medcial School, University of Western Sydney, Australia.

I lead a research group at Liverpool John Moores University – SomAffect the group currently has two postdocs, 3 PhD students with my Co-I Dr Susannah Walker.


Ongoing studies

  • Human unmyelinated touch and its role in pain modulation explored with microneurography (PhD funded by LJMU and Salford NHS Trust to Dr Andy Marshall)
  • Investigating whether a class of unmyelinated, mechanosensitive nerves innervating the skin of the body, that respond optimally to gentle stroking touch, provide the sensory signals that cue the physical presence of social support, thereby aiding emotion regulation and buffering individuals’ from stress. (BIAL Foundation funding to Dr Susannah Walker / Francis McGlone – Dr Ralph Pawling is postdoc on the study)
  • A research project understanding and characterizing the neural and behavioral mechanisms engaged during oral sensory processing. A BBSRC GSK CASE award to Sharon Smith.
  • An investigation of the role of 5-HT in psychological responses to affective touch. Funded by Leverhulme Trust – postdocs Paula Trotter and Ralph Pawling.
  • Human mechanosensation: From 1st-order neuron to somatosensory cortex. MRC grant with University of Nottingham (Sue Francis)
  • Peripheral Pain Mechanisms: The characterisation of myelinated and unmyelinated afferents in normal and neuropathic peripheral nerves. Pain Relief Foundation funded PhD to Adarsh Makdani.
  • Developing a model to evaluate C-tactile fibre contribution to allodynia and for testing new topical medications. Pain Relief Foundation funded research grant awarded to Dr Andy Marshall, Dr Francis O’Neill and Francis McGlone.

Publications 2014-2016

Guest, S., Essick, G. K., Mehrabyan, A., Dessirier, J. -M., & McGlone, F. (2014). Effect of hydration on the tactile and thermal sensitivity of the lip. Physiology and Behavior, 123, 127-135. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.10.013

Ackerley, R., Saar, K., McGlone, F., Backlund Wasling, H. (2014) Quantifying the sensory and emotional perception of touch: differences between glabrous and hairy skin. Front. Behav. Neurosci., doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00034

Guest S, Mehrabyan A, Ackerley R, McGlone F, Phillips N, Essick G.(2014) Tactile experience does not ameliorate age-related reductions in sensory function. Exp Aging Res. 40(1):81-106. doi: 10.1080/0361073X.2014.857563.

McGlone, F., Wessberg, J. & Olausson, H. (2014) Discriminative and Affective touch: Sensing and feeling. Neuron 82, 737-755

Kaiser, M.D., Yang, D.J.Y., Voos, A.C., Bennett, R.H., Gordon, I., Pretzsch, C., Beam, D., Keifer, C., Eilbott, J., McGlone, F., & Pelphrey, K.A. (2015) Brain Mechanisms for Processing Affective (and Nonaffective) Touch Are Atypical in Autism, Cerebral Cortex,   doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhv125 (ePub)

Ogden R, Moore D, Redfern L and McGlone F. (2015)  Stroke me for longer this touch feels too short: The effect of pleasant touch on temporal perception. Conscious Cogn. 36:306-13. doi: 94. 10.1016/j.concog.2015.07.006.

Shaikh S, Nagi SS, McGlone F, Mahns DA (2015) Psychophysical Investigations into the Role of Low-Threshold C Fibres in Non-Painful Affective Processing and Pain Modulation.PLoS One. 2015 Sep 15;10(9):e0138299. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138299.

Lloyd DM, McGlone FP, Yosipovitch G. (2015) Somatosensory pleasure circuit: from skin to brain and back. Exp Dermatol. 24(5):321-4. doi: 10.1111/exd.12639.