“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.” The authors of this review 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. They suggest that the neuropsychological processes that mediate placebo effects may be crucial for a wide array of therapeutic approaches, including many drugs.
Wager TD and Atlas LY: The neuroscience of placebo effects: connecting context, learning and health. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 16: 403–418 (2015); doi:10.1038/nrn3976

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