Media Production Project

When the idea of how we treat and handle pain is discussed we often do not think it can be related to how we contribute emotions to photographs. We also do not expect that a fake treatment would make us feel better when we are exposed to the pain. In a recent study, The University of Luxembourg has conducted a study regarding the placebo effects and the role of cognitive reappraisal which is how well they can interpret negative emotions. The concept of how emotions can be tracked through fMRI scanning was also analyzed. Particularly, this was done to show that a person’s ability to reinterpret negative events and to control feelings influences how strongly a placebo will work to reduce pain. Dr. Marian van der Meulen has discovered that when looking at a person’s brain, specific spots of the brain which interprets pain are less active when the placebo is in place.
To begin, the participants were selected through an advertisement, 13 males and 17 females participated. From there, the experimental procedure took place where these participants had two sessions, one of which was in a lab and the other was a questionnaire on emotional regulation. For the lab testing, the volunteers were asked to look at photographs and their emotions were tracked. The second part of the procedure was the PA section. In this portion of the examination, a pain stimulus was added to the lower forearm of the patient and the “unpleasantness” which they felt was recorded. After the pain stimulus, the patients received a cream which they were informed would relieve pain. This is where the placebo comes into the picture; the cream which they were told relieved pain was actually just a simple moisturizer. The fMRI was used to track the brain activity throughout the experiments and different tests.
After the cream was given, every participant reported less pain on their arm. This meant to the researchers that the placebo effect worked on the study. There also was a correlation which was discovered, when comparing the two tests. The participants who could control their negative feelings when looking at the photographs had the highest reaction to the cream in the brain when looking at the fMRI. Meaning, that your emotional regulation affects how placebos will impact you. Overall it was discovered that the placebo can, in fact, reduce pain and play a role in our brains.



When doing this project, deciding the information to include in my news article was very challenging for me. I had trouble deciding what information was important for the reader to know in order to understand the study to the full extent. I also felt as though I needed to say everything which was in the study but I could not do that because of length limitations. I decided not to include numbers specifically, but to actually describe the results. I also thought that it was important to have the participation selection included which the original article did not have.  I think that the participants pay an important role when determining if the study is reliable and is necessary for the reader to know.  Overall, my perspective of journalism has changed over the course of the semester in several ways. First, I did not realize that every journal has an in-depth case study behind it. I found this interesting because I always just assumed that it was the original journal and that was it, not that there were several pages behind it. I also did not realize just how challenging it was for a journalist to select what is important for the readers understanding. This can be so tricky and this really put it into perspective for hard it can be to decide. In the beginning of the semester I did not have as much of an appreciation for this field and now I definitely do. Overall this set of projects helped me to understand and have more of an appreciation for journalism and how it is when working with scientific articles.

University of Luxembourg. “Pain, emotions and the placebo effect.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily,


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