About

Professor Christopher Beedie is an Honorary Professor and an affiliate of the Cognition and Neuroscience Research Group

Research interests

Chris researches explicit and implicit self-regulatory processes such as emotion, mood, self-control and placebo effects. Having a background in sports science and physiology alongside psychology and neuroscience, he examines these processes from an interdisciplinary perspective. His current work is in collaboration with experts in anthropology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience and physiology. Their main research questions centre on when and how the brain and body respond positively to the mere suggestion of a performance-enhancing or psychoactive substance, even in the absence of any biologically active ingredients. 

Recent indicative publications

  • Davis., A, Hettinga, F, & Beedie, C. (In Press). You don't need to administer a placebo to elicit a placebo effect: Social factors trigger neurobiological pathways to enhance sports performance. European Journal of Sports Sciences: special edition on placebo effects in sport & exercise
  • Lindheimer, J., Szabo, A., Raglin, J., & Beedie, C. (In Press). Advancing the understanding of placebo effects in psychological outcomes of exercise lessons learned and future directions. European Journal of Sports Sciences: special edition on placebo effects in sport & exercise
  • Hurst, P., Schiphof-Godart, L.; Hettinga, F., Roelands, B., & Beedie, C. (In Press). Caffeine and placebo effects improve pacing and performance during 1000-m running time-trials. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.
  • Beedie, C. (In Press). Neurobiological mechanisms of placebo effects in exercise and mental health. Frontiers in Psychiatry.
  • Beedie, C., Benedetti, F, Camerone, E., Barbiani, D., & Roelands, B (In Press). Moving beyond description: Towards a better understanding of physiological and neurobiological mechanisms of placebo effects in fatigue. European Journal of Sports Sciences: special edition on placebo effects in sport & exercise.
  • Beedie. C., Benedetti, F. Barbiani, D., Camerone, E., Cohen, E., Coleman, D., Davis, A.; Edelsten, C., Flowers, E., Foad, A., Harvey, S., Hettinga, F., Hurst, P., Lane, A., Lindheimer, J., Raglin, J., Roelands, B., Schiphof-Godart, L.,  Szabo, A. (2018). Consensus statement on placebo effects in sports and exercise: The need for conceptual clarity, methodological rigour, and the elucidation of neurobiological mechanisms. European Journal of Sports Sciences.
  • Harvey, S & Beedie, C (2017). Studying placebo effects in model organisms will help us understand them in humans. Biology Letters.
  • Beedie, C. J., Whyte, G. P., Raglin, J. S., Lane, A. M., Cohen, E., Hurst, P., Coleman, D. C. and Foad, A. J. (2017). “Caution, this treatment is a placebo. It might work, but it might not”: Why emerging mechanistic evidence for placebo effects does not legitimize the use of complementary and alternative medicines in sport. British Journal of Sports Medicine.
  • Hurst, P., Foad, A. J., Coleman, D., & Beedie, C. J. (2017). Intention to use sport supplements predicts placebo responding among athletes. Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise.
  • Hurst, P., Foad, A. J., Coleman, D., & Beedie, C. J. (2016). Development and Validation of the Sport Supplement Belief Scale. Performance Enhancement & Health http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.peh.2016.10.001
  • Beedie, C. J., Foad, A. J., & Hurst, P. (2015). Capitalising on the placebo component of treatments. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 14(4):284-7. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000172

Publications

Article

  • Lindheimer, J., Szabo, A., Raglin, J., Beedie, C., Carmichael, K., & O’Connor, P. (2019). Reconceptualizing the measurement of expectations to better understand placebo and nocebo effects in psychological responses to exercise. European Journal of Sport Science. doi:10.1080/17461391.2019.1674926
    The understanding of placebo and nocebo effects in psychological responses to exercise may be improved by measuring expectations. Despite availability of several validated expectation measures, we argue for using scales that take both positive and negative expectations for exercise-induced changes into account. A cross-sectional survey was used to collect information on positive and negative expectations pertaining to how exercise would affect 14 different outcomes related to psychological health (n = 966). Outcomes for which a majority of the sample (>50%) reported positive expectations for exercise-induced changes included: psychological well-being (75.3%), depression (74.3%), relaxation (74.2%), sleep quality (73.3%), stress (72.2%), anxiety (69.8%), energy (67.1%), and attention (60.2%). Outcomes for which a majority of the sample (>50%) reported a negative expectation for exercise-induced changes were muscle pain (66.3%), fatigue (57.3%), and joint pain (50.7%). Across all 14 outcomes, the percentage of participants with negative expectations for exercise-induced changes ranged from 5.9 to 66.3%. Elucidating the potential presence of placebo and nocebo effects through measurement of expectations may improve the understanding of variability in the direction and magnitude of exercise-related effects on psychological health. Although there were only 3 outcomes for which the majority of participants reported negative expectations, we found that negative expectations were present to some degree for all 14 outcomes. Thus, for researchers who wish to characterize expectations in studies of psychological responses to exercise, we recommend using measures that give equal consideration to positive and negative expectations.
  • Davis, A., Hettinga, F., & Beedie, C. (2019). You don’t need to administer a placebo to elicit a placebo effect: Social factors trigger neurobiological pathways to enhance sports performance. European Journal of Sport Science, 1-11. doi:10.1080/17461391.2019.1635212
    The placebo effect is traditionally viewed as a positive outcome resulting from a person’s belief that an inert substance is in fact an active drug. In this context, it is often viewed as an intrapsychic phenomenon. However, most placebo effects reported in scientific research result from social interactions. These might be explicit, such as the description and administration of a treatment by a practitioner, or less explicit, for example, the recipient’s perceptions of the practitioner’s credibility, expertise, or confidence. On this basis, placebo effects are arguably social in origin. Many phenomena in sport are likewise social in origin, from the facilitation effects of a home field crowd or a cohesive team, to anxiety induced by an expert opponent or perceived underperformance. Such social effects have been the subject of research not only in social psychology, but also in experimental physiology. Emergent research in cognitive and evolutionary anthropology suggests that these social effects can be examined as a form of placebo effect. This suggestion is not a speculative position predicated on social and placebo effects sharing similar environmental cues and outcomes, but one based on a growing database indicating that drug, placebo, and social effects operate via common neurobiological mechanisms. In this paper, we examine the theoretical and empirical overlap between placebo and social effects and describe emergent research reporting specific brain pathways activated by socio-environmental cues as well as by drugs and placebos. We do so from three perspectives: the competitor, the teammate, the researcher.
  • Lindheimer, J., Szabo, A., Raglin, J., & Beedie, C. (2019). Advancing the understanding of placebo effects in psychological outcomes of exercise: lessons learned and future directions. European Journal of Sports Science. doi:10.1080/17461391.2019.1632937
    Despite the apparent strength of scientific evidence suggesting that psychological benefits result from both acute and chronic exercise, concerns remain regarding the extent to which these benefits are explained by placebo effects. Addressing these concerns is methodologically and at times conceptually challenging. However, developments in the conceptualization and study of placebo effects from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, pharmacology, and human performance offer guidance for advancing the understanding of placebo effects in psychological responses to exercise. In clinical trials, expectations can be measured and experimentally manipulated to better understand the influence of placebo effects on treatment responses. Further, compelling evidence has shown that the contribution of placebo effects and their underlying neurobiological mechanisms to treatment effects can be measured without administering a traditional placebo (e.g., inert substance) by leveraging psychological factors such as expectations and conditioning. Hence, the purpose of this focused review is to integrate lessons such as these with the current body of literature on placebo effects in psychological responses to exercise and provide recommendations for future research directions
  • Beedie, C., Benedetti, F., Barbiani, D., Camerone, E., Lindheimer, J., & Roelands, B. (2019). Incorporating methods and findings from neuroscience to better understand placebo and nocebo effects in sport. European Journal of Sport Science. doi:10.1080/17461391.2019.1675765
    Placebo and nocebo effects are a factor in sports performance. However, the majority of published studies in sport science are descriptive and speculative regarding mechanisms. It is therefore not unreasonable for the sceptic to argue that placebo and nocebo effects in sport are illusory, and might be better explained by variations in phenomena such as motivation. It is likely that, in sport at least, placebo and nocebo effects will remain in this empirical grey area until researchers provide stronger mechanistic evidence. Recent research in neuroscience has identified a number of consistent, discrete and interacting neurobiological and physiological pathways associated with placebo and nocebo effects, with many studies reporting data of potential interest to sport scientists, for example relating to pain, fatigue and motor control. Findings suggest that placebos and nocebos result in activity of the opioid, endocannabinoid and dopamine neurotransmitter systems, brain regions including the motor cortex and striatum, and measureable effects on the autonomic nervous system. Many studies have demonstrated that placebo and nocebo effects associated with a treatment, for example an inert treatment presented as an analgesic or stimulant, exhibit mechanisms similar or identical to the verum or true treatment. Such findings suggest the possibility of a wide range of distinct placebo and nocebo mechanisms that might influence sports performance. In the present paper, we present some of the findings from neuroscience. Focussing on fatigue as an outcome and caffeine as vehicle, we propose three approaches that researchers in sport might incorporate in their studies in order to better elucidate mechanisms of placebo/nocebo effects on performance.
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