Placebo analgesia: cognition or perception.

Debora L Morton, Wael El-Deredy, Anthony K P Jones

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Placebo analgesia has become a well-studied phenomenon that encompasses psychology, physiology and pharmacology. In this chapter we explore the complex interactions between these disciplines in order to argue that the placebo response is more than a simple change in perception but is a cognitive style driven by prior expectations. The expectation of treatment effect is shaped by prior information and prior experience which our brain uses to predict future events. In the case of placebo analgesia the prediction of pain relief overrules the actual feeling of pain leading to a decrease in pain sensation. This altered sensation can be attributed to personality traits, altered error monitoring processes, changes in anticipatory responses to pain and activation of the endogenous opioid system. In conclusion we discuss how altered sensory processing by descending pain modulation may play a part in placebo analgesia and how the loss of the brains prefrontal regions can make it impossible to have a placebo response.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalHandbook of Experimental Pharmacology
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    Dive into the research topics of 'Placebo analgesia: cognition or perception.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this