Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Brain region central to placebo effect identified

July 19, 2007

Researchers have pinpointed a brain region central to the machinery of the placebo effect-the often controversial phenomenon in which a person's belief in the efficacy of a treatment such as a painkilling drug influences its effect.

The researchers said their findings with human subjects offer the potential of measuring the placebo effect and even modulating it for therapeutic purposes. They also said their findings could enable measurements of brain function that "would help determine dysfunctions in cerebral mechanisms that may impair recovery across a number of conditions."

Jon-Kar Zubieta and colleagues published their findings in the July 19, 2007, issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press.

Their studies concentrated on a brain area known as the nucleus accumbens (NAC), a region deep in the brain, known to play a role in expectation of reward. Earlier studies had hinted at involvement of the NAC in the placebo effect, but the nature of that role was unknown, said the researchers.

In their experiments, the researchers told volunteers that they were testing the effects of a new pain-killing drug and that the subjects might receive the drug or a placebo. However, in the experiments, the researchers gave only a placebo injection of a salt solution. The experiments involved asking the subjects to rate their expectation of the pain-killing effects of the "drug" and also the level of pain relief with or without the "drug" that they felt from a moderately painful injection of salt solution into their jaw muscle.

In one set of experiments, the researchers used a molecular tracer scanning technique known as Positron Emission Spectroscopy to measure release from the NAC of the neurotransmitter dopamine-a chemical trigger of the brain's reward response. They found that the greater subjects' anticipation of the pain-killing benefit of the placebo, the greater the dopamine release from the NAC. Also, subjects who reported greater relief from the placebo when they did experience pain showed greater NAC activity when they received the placebo before the pain.

In separate experiments, the researchers studied whether activation of subjects' NAC during reward processing correlated with the magnitude of their placebo effect. They told subjects to expect monetary rewards of different amounts, as their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The researchers found that the people who showed greater activation of the NAC during this reward-expectation task also showed a greater anticipation of effectiveness of a placebo.

The researchers concluded that "These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that this system is involved in the encoding of the 'incentive value' of the placebo, possibly acting as a gate or permissive system for the formation of placebo effects."

They wrote that "The placebo effect then emerges as a resiliency mechanism with broad implications that, given its activation of specific circuits and mechanisms, can be both examined and modulated for therapeutic purposes."

Cell Press


Related Placebo Current Events and Placebo News Articles


Maternal inflammation boosts serotonin and impairs fetal brain development in mice
Fighting the flu during pregnancy sickens a pregnant woman, but it may also put the fetus at a slightly increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders like autism later in life.

EPO in very preterm infants does not improve neurodevelopmental outcomes at 2 years
In a study appearing in the May 17 issue of JAMA, Giancarlo Natalucci, M.D., of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and colleagues randomly assigned 448 preterm infants born between 26 weeks 0 days' and 31 weeks 6 days' gestation to receive either high-dose recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) or placebo (saline) intravenously within 3 hours, at 12 to 18 hours, and at 36 to 42 hours after birth.

Novel nicotine inhaler doubles smoking quit rates
A study by researchers at New Zealand's University of Otago, Wellington shows that smokers who used a nicotine inhaler were twice as likely to quit smoking as smokers using a placebo inhaler.

Melatonin reduces blood pressure and tunes up disrupted circadian rhythms in the elderly
The older we get, the more likely our circadian rhythms are disrupted. For example, blood pressure (BP), not only tends to increase but as well become more irregular. Luckily, as we show in our research, melatonin helps to ameliorate both trends.

Fruit discovery could provide new treatments for obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
A combination of two compounds found in red grapes and oranges could be used to improve the health of people with diabetes, and reduce cases of obesity and heart disease.

When you take acetaminophen, you don't feel others' pain as much
When you take acetaminophen to reduce your pain, you may also be decreasing your empathy for both the physical and social aches that other people experience, a new study suggests.

Testosterone undecanoate improves sexual function in men with type 2 diabetes
In a recent placebo-controlled study, long acting testosterone undecanoate (an ester of testosterone) improved erectile function, intercourse satisfaction, and sexual desire scores in type 2 diabetic men with severe hypogonadism.

Placebo effects in women are boosted by vasopressin
A new study in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry suggests that women are particularly susceptible to the pain-relieving placebo effect of vasopressin.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy may help reduce memory problems in cancer survivors who have received chemotherapy
A new analysis indicates that a type of psychotherapy delivered by videoconference may help prevent some of the long-term memory issues caused by chemotherapy.

Black raspberry improves cardiovascular risk in metabolic syndrome
A new study shows that black raspberry extract can significantly lower a key measure of arterial stiffness-an indicator of cardiovascular disease.
More Placebo Current Events and Placebo News Articles

You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter

You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter
by Dr. Joe Dispenza (Author)


Is it possible to heal by thought alone—without drugs or surgery? The truth is that it happens more often than you might expect. In You Are the Placebo,Dr. Joe Dispenza shares numerous documented cases of those who reversed cancer, heart disease, depression, crippling arthritis, and even the tremors of Parkinson’s disease by believing in a placebo. Similarly, Dr. Joe tells of how others have gotten sick and even died the victims of a hex or voodoo curse—or after being misdiagnosed with a fatal illness. Belief can be so strong that pharmaceutical companies use double- and triple-blind randomized studies to try to exclude the power of the mind over the body when evaluating new drugs.

Dr. Joe does more than simply explore the history and the physiology of the placebo effect. He...

Placebo

Placebo
by Howard O. Pittman (Author)


Webster's dictionary defines "placebo" as a "medication prescribed more for the mental relief of a patient than for the actual effect on his disorder, or something tending to sooth." The doctors tell us that if we know we are being treated with a placebo, it does not work. In our minds we must think that it is a real medication and has the strength or power to heal. If the patient believes this, then the treatment has been known to work wonders in many cases that otherwise could not have been treated. Placebo treatment is, in fact, nothing of substance, but in the mind of the patient it is real. In order for this kind of treatment to work, the doctor must convince the patient of the work of the medication. My friend, I declare unto you that this is exact "treatment" that most...

Placebo (The Jevin Banks Experience) (Volume 1)

Placebo (The Jevin Banks Experience) (Volume 1)
by Steven James (Author)


While trying to debunk a controversial neurological research program, illusionist and filmmaker Jevin Banks uncovers a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world's largest pharmaceutical firms.

Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body

Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body
by Jo Marchant (Author)


A New York Times Bestseller

A rigorous, skeptical, deeply reported look at the new science behind the mind's surprising ability to heal the body

Have you ever felt a surge of adrenaline after narrowly avoiding an accident? Salivated at the sight (or thought) of a sour lemon? Felt turned on just from hearing your partner's voice? If so, then you've experienced how dramatically the workings of your mind can affect your body.

Yet while we accept that stress or anxiety can damage our health, the idea of "healing thoughts" was long ago hijacked by New Age gurus and spiritual healers. Recently, however, serious scientists from a range of fields have been uncovering evidence that our thoughts, emotions and beliefs can ease pain, heal wounds, fend off infection and heart...

Placebo Effects: Understanding the mechanisms in health and disease

Placebo Effects: Understanding the mechanisms in health and disease
by Fabrizio Benedetti (Author)


One of the most widespread words in medicine is placebo and placebo effect, although it is not always clear what it means exactly. Recent progress in biomedical research has allowed a better clarification of the placebo effect. We know that this is an active psychobiological phenomenon which takes place in the patient's brain and that is capable of influencing both the course of a disease and the response to a therapy.

Since publication of the first edition of this book in 2008, there has been an explosion of placebo research, and this new edition brings the topic fully up to date. Throughout, the book emphasizes that there are many placebo effects and critically reviews them in different medical conditions, such as neurological and psychiatric disorders, cardiovascular and...

You Are the Placebo Meditation 1 -- Revised Edition: Changing Two Beliefs and Perceptions

You Are the Placebo Meditation 1 -- Revised Edition: Changing Two Beliefs and Perceptions
by Dr. Joe Dispenza (Author)


Dr. Joe Dispenza has created two meditation CDs—featuring different music—to accompany his book You Are the Placebo.On this longer 56-minutedisc, Dr. Joewalks you through Meditation 1: Changing Two Beliefs and Perceptions. After introducing the open-focus technique, he then moves you into the practice of finding the present moment. When you discover the sweet spot of the present moment and you forget about yourself as the personality you have always been, you have access to other possibilities that already exist in the quantum field. That’s because you are no longer connected to the same body-mind, to the same identification with the environment, and to the same predictable timeline. In the present moment, the familiar past and the future literally no longer exist, and you become...

Placebo

Placebo
by Melissa James Gibson (Author)




Placebo (What Is The Church's Dope?)

Placebo (What Is The Church's Dope?)
by Howard Pittman (Author)


Webster's dictionary defines "placebo" as a "medication prescribed more for the mental relief of a patient than for the actual effect on his disorder, or something tending to sooth." The doctors tell us that if we know we are being treated with a placebo, it does not work. In our minds we must think that it is a real medication and has the strength or power to heal. If the patient believes this, then the treatment has been known to work wonders in many cases that otherwise could not have been treated. Placebo treatment is, in fact, nothing of substance, but in the mind of the patient it is real. In order for this kind of treatment to work, the doctor must convince the patient of the work of the medication. My friend, I declare unto you that this is exact "treatment" that most...

Surgery, The Ultimate Placebo: A Surgeon Cuts through the Evidence

Surgery, The Ultimate Placebo: A Surgeon Cuts through the Evidence
by Ian Harris (Author)


For many complaints and conditions, the benefits from surgery are lower, and the risks higher, than you or your surgeon think. In this book you will see how commonly performed operations can be found to be useless or even harmful when properly evaluated. That these claims come from an experienced, practicing orthopedic surgeon who performs many of these operations himself, makes the unsettling argument particularly compelling. Of course no surgeon is recommending invasive surgery in bad faith, but Ian Harris argues that the evidence for the success for many common operations, including knee arthroscopies, back fusion or cardiac stenting, become current accepted practice without full examination of the evidence.

The Placebo Effect in Clinical Practice

The Placebo Effect in Clinical Practice
by Walter A. Brown (Author)


The role that the placebo effect plays in many treatments is clear: it not only plays a complimentary role in most treatments but it can sometimes be the only benefit of treatment. Brain imaging studies over the past decade have shown that placebo-treated patients undergo some of the same changes in brain activity as those treated with pharmacologically active substances. Yet this important component of healing is not yet harnessed in clinical settings.

The Placebo Effect in Clinical Practice brings together what we know about the mechanisms behind the placebo response, as well as the procedures that promote these responses, in order to provide a focused, and concise, overview on how current knowledge can be applied in treatment settings.

An introductory chapter documents...

© 2016 BrightSurf.com