Saturday, July 21, 2007

Why The Placebo Effect Varies From Person To Person

Great Expectations: Why The Placebo Effect Varies From Person To Person

Science Daily Why do some people experience a "placebo effect" that makes them feel better when they receive a sham treatment they believe to be real -- while other people don't respond at all to the same thing, or even feel worse?

Using two different types of brain scans, U-M researchers have found that the extent to which a person responds to a placebo treatment is closely linked to how active a certain area of their brain becomes when they're anticipating something beneficial.

Specifically, the research finds strong links between an individual's response to a placebo "painkiller", and the activity of the neurotransmitter known as dopamine in the area of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens. That's a small region at the center of the brain that's involved in our ability to experience pleasure and reward, and even to become addicted to the "high" caused by illicit drugs.

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