What You Get is What You Expect: how beliefs can alter the experience of pain and support pain management

  • Wednesday 7 May 2014
  • Lecture Theatre 8W 1.1

Pain is a major health care problem worldwide. It affects the well-being of millions of individuals, and its financial burden upon our societies is considerable. Pain is not a simple reflection of the degree of tissue-damage, it is strongly influenced by expectations and beliefs individuals hold about pain and their ability to cope with it. This has most impressively been shown in placebo analgesia in which an inert substance that is believed to be a powerful painkiller induces pain relief (analgesia). Expectations can also influence the outcome of pain treatment, including the effect of drugs such as opiods. In this lecture, Dr Katja Wiech will explain the neural basis underlying these effects and discuss how they could be used to prevent the chronification of pain and to maximize the outcome of any treatment approach in a safe and cost-effective manner.

For more lectures, see the full GULP programme.

Dr Katja Wiech

Dr Katja Wiech is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Pain Research (Department for Health, University of Bath). Her main interest is to develop an understanding of brain systems involved in the modulation of pain by beliefs people hold about pain and their ability to cope with it. Furthermore, her research aims at defining decision-making processes that integrate beliefs with incoming sensory information and the failure of optimal integration in biased perceptual decisions.