Nature Reviews Neuroscience 6, 545-552 (July 2005) | doi:10.1038/nrn1705

Focus on: Pain

Science and societyPlacebos and painkillers: is mind as real as matter?

Luana Colloca1 & Fabrizio Benedetti1  About the authors


Considerable progress has been made in our understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms of the placebo effect, and most of our knowledge originates from the field of pain and analgesia. Today, the placebo effect represents a promising model that could allow us to shed new light on mind–body interactions. The mental events induced by placebo administration can activate mechanisms that are similar to those activated by drugs, which indicates a similarity between psychosocial and pharmacodynamic effects. These new neurobiological advances are already changing our conception of how clinical trials and medical practice must be viewed and conducted.

Author affiliations

  1. Luana Colloca and Fabrizio Benedetti are at the Department of Neuroscience, Clinical and Applied Physiology Program, University of Turin Medical School, Corso Raffaello 30, 10125 Turin, Italy.

Correspondence to: Fabrizio Benedetti1 Email:


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