Placebo-Induced Changes in fMRI in the Anticipation and Experience of Pain

Tor D. Wager, James K. Rilling, Edward E. Smith, Alex Sokolik, Kenneth L. Casey, Richard J. Davidson, Stephen M. Kosslyn, Robert M. Rose, Jonathan D. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1324 Scopus citations

Abstract

The experience of pain arises from both physiological and psychological factors, including one's beliefs and expectations. Thus, placebo treatments that have no intrinsic pharmacological effects may produce analgesia by altering expectations. However, controversy exists regarding whether placebos alter sensory pain transmission, pain affect, or simply produce compliance with the suggestions of investigators. In two functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments, we found that placebo analgesia was related to decreased brain activity in pain-sensitive brain regions, including the thalamus, insula, and anterior cingulate cortex, and was associated with increased activity during anticipation of pain in the prefrontal cortex, providing evidence that placebos alter the experience of pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1162-1167
Number of pages6
JournalScience
Volume303
Issue number5661
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 20 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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    Wager, T. D., Rilling, J. K., Smith, E. E., Sokolik, A., Casey, K. L., Davidson, R. J., Kosslyn, S. M., Rose, R. M., & Cohen, J. D. (2004). Placebo-Induced Changes in fMRI in the Anticipation and Experience of Pain. Science, 303(5661), 1162-1167. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1093065