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When the going gets tough, the tough get... more relief from a placebo?
Date:11/15/2012

early 50 healthy volunteers, both male and female, between the ages of 19 and 38. They gave each person a battery of standard psychological tests that help identify the strongest personality traits an individual has, and then had them lie down in a brain scanner called a positron emission tomography or PET machine.

They told the volunteers that they were going to experience pain from salt water injected into their jaw muscle, and that a painkiller actually, a placebo would be injected at certain times. They asked patients to rate how much relief they expected to get before the experiment began. Then, during the 20-minute period when volunteers received salt water and/or "painkiller", they asked them repeatedly to say how effective they though the painkiller was.

Meanwhile, the PET scanner made images of volunteers' brains, allowing the researchers to see how much of the natural painkillers called endogenous opioids, were released in certain areas of each person's brain under painful or "painkiller" conditions. They also drew blood from some of the patients during the experiment, and measured levels of a stress-induced chemical called cortisol.

After the tests, the researchers performed sophisticated statistical analysis to determine how personality traits influenced pain ratings, brain chemical response and cortisol levels. Although the cortisol levels did not seem to be influenced by personality traits and the placebo effect, the endogenous opioid activation elicited by the placebo, as well as patient-rated pain intensity levels, were.


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Contact: Kara Gavin
kegavin@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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