Specifically, the research finds strong links between an individual’s response to a placebo "painkiller," and the activity of the neurotransmitter known as dopamine in the area of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens. That’s a small region at the center of the brain that’s involved in our ability to experience pleasure and reward, and even to become addicted to the "high" caused by illicit drugs.
The new research, published in the July 19 issue of the journal Neuron, builds on research previously published by the same U-M team in 2005. That study was the first to show that just thinking a placebo "medicine" will relieve pain is enough to prompt the brain to release its own natural painkillers, endorphins, and that this corresponds with a reduction in how much pain a person feels.
But the work also explains why others do not respond to it. Wouldn't it be interesting if these "alternative" medical treatments actually have the same type of statistics?