Daniel E. Harper, PhD

Neuroimaging Scientist
Profile Image of Daniel Harper

Dr. Harper leads the Psychophysics and Imaging Neuroscience (PaIN) Lab as an Assistant Professor in the Emory School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology. His research program investigates how pain and other sensory experiences are perceived by individuals using a combination of psychophysics (i.e. quantifying relationships between stimulus and sensations) and brain neuroimaging (e.g. functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI]). Some of the lab’s research projects ask more basic questions about perception, like how are we able to perceive differences in things that are cool, warm, cold, or hot? Other projects are concerned with translational and clinical questions, like how do perceptual mechanisms differ in individuals suffering from chronic pain, and can we find better solutions for their pain if we know more about these mechanistic differences in processing? In both research arms, the PaIN Lab is highly collaborative, working with researchers and clinicians across the School of Medicine to better understand these complex issues. Perception is inherently subjective, meaning we each understand the world by viewing it through our own, unique lens. As we learn more about the neurobiological mechanisms of subjective experience, the PaIN Lab’s research still ascribes to the idea that the best, and perhaps only, way to understand how someone else is feeling is to ask them. Thus, psychophysics remains at the forefront of the lab’s research endeavors.


  • 2007 B.S. in Psychology with Honors, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 2011 M.A. in Psychology (Behavioral Neuroscience), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 2014 Ph.D. in Psychology (Behavioral Neuroscience), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 2016 Postdoctoral Fellowship in Brain Neuroimaging and Clinical Research, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Recent Publications

  • Smith J, Allen J, Fleischer CC, Harper DE. (2022). Topology of pain networks in patients with temporomandibular disorder and pain-free controls with and without concurrent experimental pain: A pilot study. Front Pain Res, Free access via https://doi.org/10.3389/fpain.2022.966398
  • Werkman DF, Carver KZ, Harper DE, Troost JP, Aronovich S. (2022). Are Outcomes of Temporomandibular Joint Arthroscopy Influenced by Central Sensitization? J Oral Maxillofacial Surg, 80(6), 980-988.
  • Woodbury A, Krishnamurthy LC, Bohsali A, Krishnamurthy V, Smith JL, Gebre M, Tyler K, Vernon M, Crosson B, Kalangara JP, Napadow V, Allen JW, Harper DE. (2022). Percutaneous electric nerve field stimulation alters cortical thickness in a pilot study of veterans with fibromyalgia. Neurobiol Pain. Free access via PubMed Central PMCID 9207563.
  • Harper DE, Sayre K, Schrepf A, Clauw DJ, Aronovich S. (2021). Impact of fibromyalgia phenotype in temporomandibular disorders. Pain Med, 22(9), 2050-2056. Free access via PubMed Central PMCID 8427347
  • Lu CW, Harper DE, Askari A, Willsey MS, Vu PP, Schrepf AD, Harte SE, Patil PG. (2021). Stimulation of zona incerta selectively modulates pain in humans. Sci Rep, 11(1):8924. Free access via PubMed Central PMCID 8076305.
  • Ichesco E, Peltier SJ, Mawla I, Harper DE, Pauer L, Harte SE, Clauw DJ, Harris RE. (2021). Prediction of Differential Pharmacologic Response in Chronic Pain Using Functional Neuroimaging Biomarkers and Support Vector Machine Algorithm - An Exploratory Study. Arthritis Rheumatol, 73(11), 2127-2137. Free access via PubMed Central PMCID 8597096 


  • 2019 GF Gebhart Journal of Pain Early Career Investigator Award, American Pain Society
  • 2018 Woodruff Early Career Investigator Award, Emory University Woodruff Health Sciences
  • 2017 Pathway to Independence Award, National Institutes of Health
  • 2014 Tanner Award for Excellent Undergraduate Teaching, University of North Carolina
  • 2014 Young Investigator Travel Award, TMJ Association
  • 2012 Psi Chi Award for Outstanding Teaching, University of North Carolina Psi Chi Chapter
  • 2010 King Research Excellence Award, University of North Carolina Psychology Department
  • 2007 One-year Merit Assistantship, University of North Carolina Graduate School


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