Pleasure and placebo

Nature plumbs the depths of one of the most mysterious processes in medicine.

Researchers have found that the placebo effect – when “fake” medicine creates real results – gets a boost from expectation of pleasure:

Neuroscientists have found that people who experience a strong dose of pleasure at the thought of an upcoming reward are more susceptible to the placebo effect.

The research shows how the placebo effect, in which patients perceive a benefit from a medical treatment despite it having no genuine therapeutic activity, hinges on the brain’s ‘reward centre’ — a region that predicts our future expectations of positive experiences, and which is also implicated in gambling and drug addiction. Greater activity in this brain region, called the nucleus accumbens, is linked to a stronger placebo effect, the new research shows.

I want it… I can almost feel it… and there it is!