Back to Journals » Journal of Pain Research » Volume 4

Somatotopy of placebo analgesia is independent of spatial attention

Authors Domnick C, Lorenz J, Hauck M

Published 24 March 2011 Volume 2011:4 Pages 79—83


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Claudia Domnick1, Jürgen Lorenz2, Michael Hauck1,3
Department of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany; 2Faculty of Life Sciences, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Hamburg, Germany; 3Department of Neurology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany

Abstract: Placebo analgesia is being increasingly appraised as an effective support of pharmacological and surgical treatments of pain. The understanding of its neurobiological and psychological basis is therefore of high clinical relevance. It has been shown that placebo analgesia is somatotopically organized and relies on endogenous opioids. However, it is not clear whether temporal fluctuations of cue-dependent spatial attention account for the site specificity of placebo analgesia or whether a somatotopic placebo effect is possible without an attentional focus on the respective location. To address this issue we induced placebo expectations for one specific foot in healthy subjects, the other foot serving as a control location. The feet were stimulated in random order by painful laser stimuli. Half of the pulses were cued for stimulus location, whereas in the other half of trials the subjects were naïve about the location. We found that about half of the subjects exhibited a somatotopic placebo effect that was statistically independent of the spatial cue. We suggest that, after the induction of an initial expectation, placebo analgesia is spatially specific but does not necessarily depend on momentary fluctuations of spatial attention. This result rather suggests that the somatotopy of placebo analgesia relies on the creation of spatially guided expectations or conditioning, but can be maintained without ongoing monitoring of the affected body part.

Keywords: placebo analgesia, spatial attention, somatotopy

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]


Other article by this author:

C-fiber-related EEG-oscillations induced by laser radiant heat stimulation of capsaicin-treated skin

Claudia Domnick, Michael Hauck, Kenneth L Casey, Andreas K Engel, et al.

Journal of Pain Research 2009, 2:49-58

Published Date: 17 March 2009

Readers of this article also read:

Green synthesis of water-soluble nontoxic polymeric nanocomposites containing silver nanoparticles

Prozorova GF, Pozdnyakov AS, Kuznetsova NP, Korzhova SA, Emel’yanov AI, Ermakova TG, Fadeeva TV, Sosedova LM

International Journal of Nanomedicine 2014, 9:1883-1889

Published Date: 16 April 2014

Evaluation of in vitro glistening formation in hydrophobic acrylic intraocular lenses

Thomes BE, Callaghan TA

Clinical Ophthalmology 2013, 7:1529-1534

Published Date: 25 July 2013

Methacrylic-based nanogels for the pH-sensitive delivery of 5-Fluorouracil in the colon

Ashwanikumar N, Kumar NA, Nair SA, Kumar GS

International Journal of Nanomedicine 2012, 7:5769-5779

Published Date: 15 November 2012

A novel preparation method for silicone oil nanoemulsions and its application for coating hair with silicone

Hu Z, Liao M, Chen Y, Cai Y, Meng L, Liu Y, Lv N, Liu Z, Yuan W

International Journal of Nanomedicine 2012, 7:5719-5724

Published Date: 12 November 2012

Cross-linked acrylic hydrogel for the controlled delivery of hydrophobic drugs in cancer therapy

Deepa G, Thulasidasan AK, Anto RJ, Pillai JJ, Kumar GS

International Journal of Nanomedicine 2012, 7:4077-4088

Published Date: 27 July 2012

Corrigendum: Softec HD hydrophilic acrylic intraocular lens: biocompatibility and precision

Espandar L, Sikder S, Moshirfar M

Clinical Ophthalmology 2011, 5:159-160

Published Date: 6 February 2011

Crystallization after intravitreal ganciclovir injection

Pitipol Choopong, Nattaporn Tesavibul, Nattawut Rodanant

Clinical Ophthalmology 2010, 4:709-711

Published Date: 14 July 2010