The experience of pain relief arises from physiological and psychological factors, and attributes such as the commercial features of analgesic treatments have been shown to influence placebo analgesia by affecting treatment expectations. Therefore, treatment valuation from price information should influence the placebo analgesic effect. This study was done to test the hypothesis through a functional magnetic resonance imaging study in which healthy subjects were enrolled in the experiment. On the first day, the 19 participants had treatment experiences with 2 different placebo creams during a conditioning session without receiving information on treatment price. On the second-day placebo, analgesia was tested after providing price information while functional magnetic resonance imaging was performed. The results showed that the higher-priced placebo treatment leads to enhanced pain relief. Placebo analgesia in response to the higher-priced treatment was associated with activity in the ventral striatum, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and ventral tegmental area. The behavioral results provide evidence that the experience of pain was influenced by treatment valuation from price. The study concluded that the context of values in pain control is associated with activity in expectation- and reward-related circuitry.

Reference: https://www.jpain.org/article/S1526-5900(19)30854-5/fulltext