Placebo Effect Caught on MRI

Not only is the placebo effect becoming stronger, but it's now been imaged for the first time by researchers with fMRI machines. Falk Eippert at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany led the study:

Later, with an fMRI scanner on, the researchers rubbed "control" and "painkiller" creams onto two different spots on each volunteer's left forearm and applied the same level of heat to each spot, 15 times.

The fake "painkiller" cream worked: volunteers said they experienced 26 per cent less pain on the "painkiller"-treated patch of their arm, compared with the "control"-treated area.

Meanwhile, the fMRI scanner witnessed the placebo effect. When skin treated with the "control" cream was heated, an area of the dorsal horn located on the left side of volunteers' lower necks lit up, suggesting increased neural activity there in response to pain. However, this signal disappeared in the "painkiller" trials.

Link via Popular Science | Image: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

"Before conducting human trials for drugs, pharmaceutical companies are often fully aware of many of the side effects of the products they're testing. So, for instance, if a drug is known to cause dizziness and nausea, the drug company running the test wants the placebo to have the same side effects. And they have an explanation for this. They say the placebo should mimic the drug being tested so that the control group of the experiment will have side effects similar to the placebo group. Without that, they claim, the results of a blind study would be compromised."
Just saying it again, this time I am quoting from Sepp Hesslberger from 'Prescibing a placeo' on Health Supreme. It is not true that placebos do not have side effets, exactly the opposite is true.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
My daughter has rheumatoid arthritis. Maybe from a study like this they will find the location for the pain receptors for her arthritis spots, and she won't have any pain! Look beyond the placebo information to the fact that the MRI found the location of the pain receptor for the left forearm!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
the placebo is an inert substance. usually just sugar or something else. placebo is the mind curing the body because we fool the mind into thinking something else is curing it, when really we had the power to cure ourselves all along--we just have to believe we can.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
The one thing about placebos that usually gets left off stories like this is that the placebo is not an inert substance but something that is meant to make the subject think it may be working - so it will have some effect. Seems like what the story should be about is what was in the placebo that was working? and investigate that.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Placebo Effect Caught on MRI"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More