Barry J. Sessle PhD
Neuroscience Platform
Contact Info
T: (416) 946-3742
F: (416) 978-4940
University of Toronto, Department of Physiology
Medical Sciences Building, Room 3363
Toronto, ON, M5A 1A8
Research Interests
Neural and non-neural mechanisms of oral-facial pain; mastication, swalling and related motor functions.


Research Synopsis

Keywords : Neuron / Glia/ Brain/ Orofacial Pain / Motor Control/ Electrophysiology/ Cortical plasticity/ EMG/ Sensory systems/ Sleep

Detailed Description:
Electrophysiological and related neuroanatomical techniques are used to clarify:

  1. neural and non-neural mechanisms underlying the initiation and control of pain, in particular oral-facial pain; and
  2. reflex and higher centre control mechanisms of oral-facial motor functions such as chewing and swallowing.


Cell and Tissue Cultures: Brain Slice, Neurons

Procedures: Behavioural tests, electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry, in vitro electrophysiology, in vivo electrophysiology,


Amplifier, digital microscope, dissecting microscope, electrophysiology rig, motorized micromanipulator, stimulator, vibratome, water baths.

PRESENT TRAINEES                                                                                                        

Luana              Melo  (Dentistry)
Vino                Panchalingam (Dentistry)


Within the Department of Physiology:

Jonathan          Dostrovsky
Michael           Salter
Zeev                Seltzer

Outside the Department of Physiology:

Simon              Beggs             (Sick Kids Hospital, Toronto)
Karen               Davis              (Toronto Western Hospital)
Jason                Lerch              (MiCE Facility, UHN,Toronto)
Greg                Murray            (Dentistry, U. Sydney, Australia)
Koichi             Iwata               (Oral Physiology, Nihon, U. Japan)
Atsushi           Yoshida            (Oral Anatomy,  Osaka U. Japan)
Lars                Arendt-Nielsen (SensoryMotorInteraction, AalborgU, Denmark)
Peter               Svensson          (Dentistry, Aarhus U, Denmark)
Callum           Ross                (Anatomy, U. Chicago, USA)

Publications and Awards

Recent Publications

Chiang, C.Y., Wang, J., Xie, Y.F., Zhang, S., Hu, J.W., Dostrovsky, J.O. and Sessle, B.J. Astroglial glutamate-glutamine shuttle is involved in central sensitization of nociceptive neurons in rat medullary dorsal horn.  J. Neuroscience 27: 9068-9076, 2007.

Avivi-Arber, L., Lee, J.C. and Sessle, B.J.  Effects of incisor extraction on jaw and tongue motor representations within face sensorimotor cortex of adult rats. J. Comp. Neurol. 518: 1030-1045, 2010.

Castrillon, E., Ernberg M., Cairns, B.E., Wang, K., Sessle, B.J., Arendt-Nielsen, L. and Svensson, P. Interstitial glutamate concentration is elevated in the masseter muscle of myofascial temporomandibular disorder patients. J. Orofacial Pain 24: 350-361, 2010.

Adachi, K., Shimizu, K., Hu, J.W., Suzuki, I., Sakagami, H., Koshikawa, N., Sessle, B.J., Shinoda, M., Miyamoto, M., Honda, K. and Iwata, K. Purinergic receptors are involved in tooth-pulp evoked nocifensive behavior and brainstem neuronal activity.  Molecular Pain, 6/59:1-11, 2010.

Katagiri, A., Shinoda, M., Honda, K., Toyofuku, A., Sessle, B.J., Iwata, K. Satellite glial cell P2Y12 receptor in the trigeminal ganglion is involved in lingual neuropathic pain mechanisms in rats. Mol Pain. 8:2, 2012.

Narita, N., Kumar, N., Cherkas, P.S., Chiang, C.Y., Dostrovsky, J.O., Coderre, T.J., Sessle, B.J. Systemic pregabalin attenuates sensorimotor responses and medullary glutamate release in inflammatory tooth pain model. Neurosci. 218:359-66, 2012.

Boudreau, S.A., Lontis, R., Caltenco, H., Svensson, P., Sessle, B.J., Andreasen Struijk,  L.N.,  and Arendt-Nielsen, L. Features of cortical neuroplasticity associated with multidirectional novel motor-skill training: A TMS mapping study.  Exp. Brain Res. 25: 513-526, 2013.

Cao, Y.,  Wang, H., Chiang, C-Y., Dostrovsky, J.O. and Sessle, B.J.  Pregabalin suppresses nociceptive behavior and central sensitization in a rat trigeminal neuropathic pain model.  J. Pain 14: 193-204, 2013.

Yao, D., Lavigne, G., Lee, J.-C., Adachi, K. and Sessle, B.J.  Jaw-opening reflex and corticobulbar motor excitability changes during quiet sleep in non-human primates.  Sleep 36: 269-280, 2013.

Arce FI, Hatsopoulos NG, Lee J-C, Ross CF, and Sessle BJ. Modulation dynamics in the orofacial  sensorimotor cortex during motor skill acquisition. J. Neurosci., 34:5985–5997, 2014. 

Akhter, F., Haque, T., Sato, F.,  Kato, T., Ohara, H., Fujio, K., Tsutsumi, K., Uchino, K., Sessle, B.J.  and Yoshida, A.  Projections from the dorsal peduncular cortex to the trigeminal subnucleus caudalis (medullary dorsal horn) and other lower brainstem areas in rats.  Neuroscience, 266: 23-37, 2014.  

Avivi-Arber, L., Friedel, M., Lerch, J., Hayashi, Y.., Landzberg G., Moayedi M., Davis K.D., Seltzer Z. and Sessle,B.J.. Loss of teeth in genetically-mapped recombinant inbred mouse strains as a model to study the genetic control of facial sensorimotor functions and structural and functional plasticity of the orofacial sensorimotor cortex. Abstract,  Soc.Neurosci meeting, Washington, DC, November, 2014 (Abstract).

Sood, M., Bhatt, P., and Sessle, B.J.  Mechanical and thermal hypersensitivities associated with orthodontic tooth movement: a behavioural rat model for orthodontic tooth movement-induced pain. J.Oral & Fac. Pain and Headache 29: 60-69, 2015.


Chiang, C.Y., Dostrovsky, J.O., Iwata, K. and Sessle, B.J.  Role of glia in orofacial pain. The Neuroscientist, 2011.

Avivi-Arber, L., Martin, R., Lee, J.C. and Sessle, B.J. Face sensorimotor cortex role and neuroplasticity related to orofacial motor functions. Archs. Oral Biol., 2011.

Peever, J.H. and Sessle, B.J. Sensory and motor processing during sleep and wakefulness. In: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF SLEEP MEDICINE, 5th edition, eds. M. Kryger,T.Roth, W.C.Dement, Elsevier, Philadelphia, 2011. Lavigne, G.L. and Sessle, B.J.  Sleep and Orofacial Pain. In : OROFACIAL PAIN: GUIDELINES FOR ASSESSMENT, DIAGNOSIS AND MANGEMENT. Eds R. de Leeuw and G.D. Klasser, Quintessence, IL, USA, 2013, pp.217-223.

Sessle, B.J., Avivi-Arber, L. and Murray, G.M.  : Motor Control of  Masticatory Muscles. In CRANIOFACIAL MUSCLES: A NEW FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTOR SIDE OF CRANIOFACIAL MUSCLE CONTROL.  Eds. L.K. McLoon and F.H. Andrade, Springer, New York, 2013, pp. 111-130.

Dostrovsky, J.O., Sessle, B.J. and Lam, D.K. Inflammatory and Cancer-Related Orofacial Pain Mechanisms: Insights from Animal Models. In: OROFACIAL PAIN: RECENT ADVANCES IN ASSESSMENT, MANAGEMENT AND UNDERSTANDING  OF MECHANISMS, ed. B.J.Sessle, IASP Press, Washington, DC, pp.305-329, 2014.