Expectancy and belief modulate the neuronal substrates of pain treated by acupuncture

Pariente, Jérémie, White, Peter, Frackowiak, Richard S.J. and Lewith, George (2005) Expectancy and belief modulate the neuronal substrates of pain treated by acupuncture Neuroimage, 25, (4), 1161 -1167. (doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.01.016).


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Both specific and non-specific factors may play a role in acupuncture therapy for pain. We explored the cerebral consequences of needling and expectation with real acupuncture, placebo acupuncture and skin-prick, using a single-blind, randomized crossover design with 14 patients suffering from painful osteoarthritis, who were scanned with positron emission tomography (PET). The three interventions, all of which were sub-optimal acupuncture treatment, did not modify the patient's pain. The insula ipsilateral to the site of needling was activated to a greater extent during real acupuncture than during the placebo intervention. Real acupuncture and placebo (with the same expectation of effect as real acupuncture) caused greater activation than skin prick (no expectation of a therapeutic effect) in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and midbrain. These results suggest that real acupuncture has a specific physiological effect and that patients' expectation and belief regarding a potentially beneficial treatment modulate activity in component areas of the reward system.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.01.016
Related URLs:
Keywords: expectancy, belief, acupuncture, pet, pain

ePrint ID: 24454
Date :
Date Event
1 April 2005Published
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2006
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 22:40
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/24454

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