In the future, lack of reaction to placebos will become a hot topic for psychological, neurological and genetic research

Do all the people who do not react to a placebo in a medical trial have anything in common? Is there a psychological group (personality profile?) or neurological trait that prevents placebo reactions? Is it related to general pessimism, lack of hypnotic suggestibility or to a logical, analytical mindset? Is there a genetic component or is it environmentally acquired? Is there a placebo-blocking centre in the brain? What useful things can we learn that may apply to other fields?


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One Response to “In the future, lack of reaction to placebos will become a hot topic for psychological, neurological and genetic research”

  1. inthefuture Says:

    Curiously, according to a recent study:

    “The expectation of pain relief leads to a release of endorphins, the brain’s natural pain killers, which is likely to contribute to a sensation of reward and well-being.

    “Interestingly, there was an exact split in the range of responses to the placebo; a third of people reporting a reduction in the pain intensity in the ‘treated’ arm only, another third in both arms and the remainder’s intensity-ratings not being influenced by the application of the cream. The different responses can be related to the different levels of pain relief the volunteers expected, which may have allowed their individual suggestibility to influence their assessment of the pain experience.

    “Our findings suggest that different individuals may have different styles of placebo response, which is likely to affect how they respond to real treatments too. Understanding these differences could better inform the way doctors and nurses provide treatments in the future.

    “It could also facilitate more effective clinical trial design, which could substantially reduce the costs of developing new pain killers for patients with conditions like cancer and arthritis.

    “A further, exciting possibility is that we could develop talking and drug-based therapies to enhance people’s response to placebos. The experimental methods we’re using will allow us to test out such possibilities as a method of treating pain.”\

    See “Pain relief effectiveness down to mind-set?” http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-12/uom-pre122106.php


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