The reward for placebos: mechanisms underpinning placebo-induced effects on motor performance

Brietzke, Cayque, Cesario, Julio Cesar Silva, Hettinga, Florentina and Pires, Flavio Oliveira (2022) The reward for placebos: mechanisms underpinning placebo-induced effects on motor performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 122 (11). pp. 2321-2329. ISSN 1439-6319

Brietzke et al. 2022 The reward of placebo_R1.pdf - Accepted Version

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Different from the most popular thinking, the placebo effect is not a purely psychological phenomenon. A body of knowledge from multidisciplinary fields has shown that the expectation of a potential benefit when receiving a treatment induces a cascade of neurochemical-electrophysiological alterations in brain reward areas, including motor-related ones. Alterations in the dopamine, opioid, and glutamate metabolism are the neural representation converting reward-derived declarative forms into an attractive and wanted behavior, thereby changing the activation in reward subcortical and cortical structures involved in motor planning, motor execution, and emotional-cognitive attributes of decision-making. We propose that the expectation of receiving a treatment that is beneficial to motor performance triggers a cascade of activations in brain reward areas that travels from motor planning and motor command areas, passing through corticospinal pathways until driving the skeletal muscles, therefore facilitating the motor performance. Although alternative explanations cannot be totally ruled out, this mechanistic route is robust in explaining the results of placebo-induced effects on motor performance and could lead to novel insights and applications in the exercise sciences. Factors such as sex differences in reward-related mechanisms and aversion-induced nocebo effects should also be addressed.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: FOP is grateful to The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP/Brazil # 2020/14730-4) and The National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq/Brazil #4 07307/2021-4) for funding projects that fall into the field of placebo studies. FOP is grateful for his research scholarship (CNPq/Brazil # 310355/2019-2), CB is grateful for his Ph.D. scholarship (FAPESP/Brazil # 2020/04827-0) and JCSC is grateful for his M.Sc. scholarship (The Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel—CAPES/Brazil # 001).
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fatigue, Nocebo efect, Exercise performance, Neurotransmitter, Neuroimaging
Subjects: C600 Sports Science
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2022 09:17
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2023 03:30

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