Pain & Interoception


Presentation of research activities

This research unit is led by Prof. Chantal Berna Renella, Director of the Centre for Integrative and Complementary Medicine (Centre de Médecine Intégrative et Complémentaire – CEMIC), Department of Anaesthesiology, CHUV, in charge of an interdisciplinary team within a clinical unit, with two main research axes:

1) Neuroscientific investigation of complementary medicine (médecines complémentaires – MC) and its impact on the perception of pain.

2) The clinical implementation of complementary medicine in a university hospital.

The neuroscientific projects primarily aim to study the action mechanisms of hypnosis or mindfulness meditation on stress response, cognitive functions, pain modulation capacities, and reward systems in patients suffering from chronic pain. We use various psychophysical methods such as the analysis of heart rate variability, electrodermal activity, and EEG. The CEMIC also collaborates with the Centre for Biomedical Imaging (Centre d’imagerie biomédicale – CIBM) as well as the Imaging Research Laboratory (Laboratoire de recherche en imagerie – LREN) when investigating through functional MRI.

Chantal Berna Renella

Prof. Chantal Berna Renella is an internal medicine doctor, trained in psychosomatic medicine, hypnosis, and interventional analgesia, her clinical practice focuses on addressing chronic pain. Her research work studies the mechanisms of various complementary medicine approaches in pain management, as well as the implementation of integrative medicine in hospitals.

Centre de médecine intégrative et complémentaire
Rue du Bugnon 46
1011 Lausanne


Key publications


Small fiber neuropathy in hypermobile Ehlers Danlos syndrome/hypermobility spectrum disorder.

Fernandez A, Aubry-Rozier B, Vautey M, Berna C*, Suter MR* (2022)
J Intern Med, 210.1111/joim.13539.PMID: 35781355

Analgesic and Anxiolytic Effects of Virtual Reality During Minor Procedures in an Emergency Department: A Randomized Controlled Study.

Bosso L, Espejo T, Taffé P, Caillet-Bois D, Christen T, Berna C, Hugli O (2022)
Ann Emerg Med, doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2022.04.015. PMID: 35641354

Impact of hypnosis on psychophysiological measures: A scoping literature review.

Fernandez A, Urwicz L, Vuilleumier P, Berna C (2022)
Am J Clin Hypn. doi:0.1080/00029157.2021.1873099 PMID: 34748461

A test of positive suggestions about side effects as a way of enhancing the analgesic response to NSAIDs.

Fernandez A, Kirsch I, Noël L, Rodondi PY, Kaptchuk TJ, Suter MR, Décosterd I, Berna C (2019)
PLoS One. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209851. PMID: 30605458

Opioid-Independent and Opioid-Mediated Modes of Pain Modulation.

Berna C, Leknes S, Ahmad AH, Mhuircheartaigh RN, Goodwin GM, Tracey I (2018)
J Neurosci. doi: 10.1523/ JNEUROSCI.0854-18.2018. PMID: 30201765