Functional neurological disorder (FND) is characterized by neurological symptoms that cannot be explained by a structural neurological cause. Among the different aetiological models that have been proposed for FND, of note is the Bayesian predictive coding model, which posits that perception relies on top-down cortical predictions (priors) to infer the source of incoming sensory information. This model can also apply to non-pathological experiences, such as placebo and nocebo effects, wherein sensory information is shaped by prior expectations and learning. To date, most studies of the relationship between placebo and nocebo effects and FND have focused on the use of placebos for diagnosis and treatment of FND. Here, we propose that this relationship might go beyond diagnosis and therapy. We develop a framework in which shared cognitive, personality and neuroanatomical factors justify the consideration of a deeper link between FND and placebo and nocebo effects. This new perspective might offer guidance for clarification of the pathogenesis of FND and for the identification of potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets.In this Perspective, Fiorio et al. discuss the relationship between functional neurological disorder and placebo and nocebo effects, with the aim of providing insights into the pathogenesis of the disorder and identifying potential therapeutic targets.
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