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05 August 2010

Brain's reward system helps drive placebo effect

Want to maximize the placebo effect? A good way to do this is to tell someone they have a chance of getting the real treatment instead of a fake pill, but keep them guessing.

Want to maximize the placebo effect? A good way to do this, according to a new study, is to tell someone they have a decent chance of getting the real treatment instead of a fake pill, but keep them guessing.

The findings show that expectations directly regulate the power of the placebo effect by kicking the brain's reward system into gear, probably not just in Parkinson's patients but in a number of different illnesses, such as chronic pain and depression, according to Dr. A. Jon Stoessl of the Pacific Parkinson's Research Center in Vancouver, British Columbia, and his colleagues.

 
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