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Clinical Trial
, 19 (6), 500-9

Expectation Enhances Autonomic Responses to Stimulation of the Human Subthalamic Limbic Region

Affiliations
Clinical Trial

Expectation Enhances Autonomic Responses to Stimulation of the Human Subthalamic Limbic Region

Michele Lanotte et al. Brain Behav Immun.

Abstract

Recent studies show that the placebo component of a treatment can be investigated by administering therapies either overtly or covertly, without the administration of any placebo. Here, we analyze the effects of open (i.e., expected) versus hidden (i.e., unexpected) stimulations of the human subthalamic region on autonomic responses in Parkinson patients. To do this, we mapped the whole subthalamic region, from the dorsal to the ventral part, and recorded both heart rate and sympathetic responses by using spectral analysis of heart rate variability. We found that open stimulations were more effective than hidden ones only in the ventral subthalamic region, whereas no difference between the two conditions was found in the dorsal aspect. By analyzing the stimulus-response curves in the dorsal, middle, and ventral subthalamic regions, we found that the autonomic response threshold was higher in the hidden than open condition for both heart rate and sympathetic responses only in the ventral part. As this ventralmost portion of the subthalamic region is involved in associative-limbic functions, these data suggest that expectation enhances autonomic responses only if these are elicited in the limbic system. These results extend previous findings on the open-hidden paradigm in deep brain stimulation [Benedetti, F., Colloca, L., Lanotte, M., Bergamasco, B., Torre, E., Lopiano, L., 2004a. Autonomic and emotional responses to open and hidden stimulations of the human subthalamic region. Brain Res. Bull. 63, 203-211.], and indicate that expectation plays a major role in the therapeutic outcome. In light of the interactions between the sympathetic adrenergic system and the immune system, the open-hidden difference in autonomic responses might be relevant to the understanding of how expectations might affect the immune system.

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