Neuroimaging as a tool to investigate how cognitive factors influence analgesic drug outcomes

Neurosci Lett. 2012 Jun 29;520(2):149-55. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.04.043. Epub 2012 Apr 23.


The observation that cognitive factors such as beliefs and expectations not only modulate the perception of pain, but also the therapeutic benefit and adverse effects of any pharmacological treatment is not new. However, the contribution of cognitive factors to pharmacotherapy is still poorly understood and far from being systematically exploited to maximize treatment outcome. Recent insights into placebo and nocebo phenomena and their underlying neurobiological mechanisms have, however, rekindled the interest in interactions between pharmacological effects and cognitive factors. In this review, we argue that modern non-invasive neuroimaging techniques exploring structure and function of the brain as well as neurochemical processes can aid in understanding these potential interactions at a more fundamental level. Taking pain as an example, we portrait recent advances in this field and discuss basic science and clinical implications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / adverse effects
  • Analgesics / pharmacology
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neuroimaging*
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pain Perception
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology


  • Analgesics