Mind over medicine

Tales of the nocebo effect are the stuff of case-study folklore — but should we be taking them more seriously?

As a new medical graduate with a passion for the neurosciences, Dr Luana Colloca was once sceptical of any claim that mind­—body interaction had any physiological basis.

Nevertheless, in 2002 she was excited to gain a postgraduate position at the University of Turin medical school where neuroscientist Professor Fabrizio Benedetti had long been studying the power of the mind to influence the body’s response to placebos and conventional