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Placebo-responsive Parkinson patients show decreased activity in single neurons of subthalamic nucleus


Placebo administration is known to affect the brain both in pain and in Parkinson disease. Here we show that placebo treatment caused reduced activity in single neurons in the subthalamic nucleus of placebo-responsive Parkinsonian patients. These changes in activity were tightly correlated with clinical improvement; no decrease in activity occurred when the clinical placebo response was absent.

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Figure 1: Correlation among arm rigidity (black circles), STN neuronal frequency discharge (bars), and subjective report in placebo responders (left) and non-responders (right).

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This work was supported by grants from the Project “Neuroscience” of the National Research Council (01.00439.ST97 and 02.00529.ST97), from the Project “Alzheimer's disease” of the Italian Ministry of Health (PFA/DML/UO6/2001 and PFA/DML/UO6/2001/AA), and from a grant from the Italian Ministry of University and Research-FIRB (RBNE01SZB).

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Correspondence to Fabrizio Benedetti.

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Benedetti, F., Colloca, L., Torre, E. et al. Placebo-responsive Parkinson patients show decreased activity in single neurons of subthalamic nucleus. Nat Neurosci 7, 587–588 (2004).

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