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Placebos reduce pain by creating an expectation of relief. Distraction—say, doing a puzzle—relieves it by keeping the brain busy. But do they use the same brain processes? Neuromaging suggests they do. When applying a placebo, scientists see activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. That’s the part of the brain that controls high-level cognitive functions like working memory and attention—which is what you use to do that distracting puzzle. ... More>
Scientists and doctors have been studying placebos for more than half a century. These inert “sugar pills” remain highly controversial, yet they are widely used in clinical treatment today—especially in […]... More>