Scientists already know the placebo effect is real. They can measure it in studies that compare real drugs to dummy pills, where those given the fakes have noticeable improvements to pain and other symptoms.
But could a gloomy outlook really harm? British and German researchers performed the most sophisticated study yet to tell. They strapped a heat-beaming device onto the legs of 22 healthy volunteers, zapping it until people rated their pain at nearly 70 on a scale of 1 to 100…
Expecting more pain fired up sections of the brain that control mood and anxiety, the researchers recently reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine. In contrast, anticipating pain relief fired up different regions previously found active in people given placebos.
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