The neuroscience of placebo effects: connecting context, learning and health.

Author: Wager TD1, Atlas LY2
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup>Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Boulder, 345 UCB, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA. <sup>2</sup>National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20982, USA.
Conference/Journal: Nat Rev Neurosci.
Date published: 2015 Jul
Other: Volume ID: 16 , Issue ID: 7 , Pages: 403-18 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1038/nrn3976. , Word Count: 127

Placebo effects are beneficial effects that are attributable to the brain-mind responses to the context in which a treatment is delivered rather than to the specific actions of the drug. They are mediated by diverse processes--including learning, expectations and social cognition--and can influence various clinical and physiological outcomes related to health. Emerging neuroscience evidence implicates multiple brain systems and neurochemical mediators, including opioids and dopamine. We present an empirical review of the brain systems that are involved in placebo effects, focusing on placebo analgesia, and a conceptual framework linking these findings to the mind-brain processes that mediate them. This framework suggests that the neuropsychological processes that mediate placebo effects may be crucial for a wide array of therapeutic approaches, including many drugs.

PMID: 26087681 PMCID: PMC6013051 DOI: 10.1038/nrn3976