Pain and the Placebo Effect

  • Antonella Pollo
  • Fabrizio Benedetti

Psychological Modulation of Pain

Since ancient times it has been recognized that many psychological factors can strongly influence and modulate the multidimensional experience of pain. Attending a distracting toy can make a distressed child stop crying, and expectation of pain relief can lessen the unpleasantness of stomach-aches. Attention, emotions, suggestions and expectations, anxiety, fear, mood are among the best known examples of factors that can shape the processing of nociceptive information as it travels from the spinal cord to higher centers in the brain.

The understanding of the neurobiological basis of this top-down modulation of pain represents a challenge in pain research and many efforts are currently devoted to the development of models illustrating its “modus operandi”. One such model is offered by placebo analgesia, i.e. the lessening of pain experienced in response to a therapeutic act devoid of intrinsic analgesic activity. As it will be detailed in this chapter,...


Irritable Bowel Syndrome Anterior Cingulate Cortex Placebo Effect Irritable Bowel Syndrome Patient Placebo Response 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di NeuroscienzeUniversità degli Studi di TorinoI-10125 TorinoItaly

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