Article published in:New Horizons in the Neuroscience of Consciousness
Edited by Elaine K. Perry, Daniel Collerton, Fiona E.N. LeBeau and Heather Ashton
[Advances in Consciousness Research 79] 2010
► pp. 259–268
Conscious and unconscious placebo responses
How the ritual of the therapeutic act changes the patient’s brain
The study of the placebo response is basically the study of the psychosocial context around the therapy, which constitutes the ritual of the therapeutic act, and of its effects on the patient’s brain. Many mechanisms are involved, both conscious, like expectation of a future outcome, and unconscious, such as classical conditioning. Overall, recent research indicates that different social stimuli, first and foremost the therapist’s words, may induce cellular and molecular changes in the patient’s brain, thus placing psychotherapy into the neurobiological domain.
Published online: 28 October 2010