A neural mechanism of direct and observational conditioning for placebo and nocebo responses.Neuroimage. 2019 01 01; 184:954-963.N
Classical theories suggest placebo analgesia and nocebo hyperalgesia are based on expectation and conditioned experience. Whereas the neural mechanism of how expectation modulates placebo and nocebo effects during pain anticipation have been extensively studied, little is known about how experience may change brain networks to produce placebo and nocebo responses. We investigated the neural pathways of direct and observational conditioning for conscious and nonconscious conditioned placebo/nocebo effects using magnetoencephalography and a face visual cue conditioning model. We found that both direct and observational conditioning produced conscious conditioned placebo and nocebo effects and a nonconscious conditioned nocebo effect. Alpha band brain connectivity changes before and after conditioning could predict the magnitude of conditioned placebo and nocebo effects. Particularly, the connectivity between the rostral anterior cingulate cortex and middle temporal gyrus was an important indicator for the manipulation of placebo and nocebo effects. Our study suggests that conditioning can mediate our pain experience by encoding experience and modulating brain networks.