IMR Press / JIN / Volume 17 / Issue 1 / DOI: 10.31083/JIN-170041
Open Access Brief Report
Investigating visual effects of a disgust nocebo with fMRI
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1 Department of Psychology, Section Clinical Psychology, University of Graz, BioTechMedGraz, Universitätsplatz 2/III, 8010 Graz, Austria
*Correspondence: (Anne Schienle)
J. Integr. Neurosci. 2018, 17(1), 83–88;
Submitted: 12 June 2017 | Accepted: 14 July 2017 | Published: 15 January 2018
Copyright: © 2018 The authors. Published by IMR press.
This is an open access under the CC BY license.

There is growing evidence that placebos are able to influence visual perception. A previous functional magnetic resonance imaging study on the processing of disgust images demonstrated that a “disgust placebo” (inert pill administered with the verbal suggestion of an anti-nausea medication) reduced visual cortex activity and connectivity. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation, visual effects corresponding to a “disgust nocebo” (an odorless substance introduced as an aversive smell that enhances disgust feelings) were examined. Data from 29 females were reanalyzed. They viewed disgusting, fear-eliciting, and neutral images once with and once without the nocebo. In the nocebo condition with disgusting images disgust experienced that significantly increased fusiform gyrus activation, which also showed enhanced coupling with the amygdala and several (extra)striate cortex regions. The nocebo changed the affective value and motivational relevance of the stimuli as well the perception of basic visual features. These findings demonstrate that nocebo-related expectations can have a strong influence on the experience of sensory input.

visual cortex
functional magnetic resonance imaging
psychophysiological interaction analysis
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