40 pain-free volunteers took part in an experiment funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign using an artificial pain stimulus, and were led to expect reduced pain after the application of a cream which was actually a placebo.
Lead researcher Alison Watson said: “Any medical treatment involves a placebo element; the psychological suggestion that it is going to work. So we theorised that a proportion of any treatment’s effectiveness would relate to how much we wanted it to work, believed in it or trusted the person administering it.
“Doctors and nurses can transmit a lot of information about a treatment and its effectiveness through their words and gestures. We know that when people visit their preferred GP the treatment or advice they receive will be more effective than that given by a GP they prefer not to see. Similarly, red pills have been shown to be more effective than green ones; so we wanted to test whether all this was due to expectations of successful treatment and trust in the person giving it.”
24 of the volunteers initially received a moderately painful heat stimulus to both arms. The placebo cream was then applied to the skin, but they were led to believe that the cream on one of their arms may be a local anaesthetic.
After the application of the cream, the intensity of the heat stimulus was turned down on one arm without informing the volunteer. Subsequently the intensity was returned to its previous level, but - in contrast to the 16 people in the control group -67% of the treatment group continued to perceive the heat as less painful.
Alison said: “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.”
Jon Keighren | alfa
Penn study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos
21.11.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures
17.11.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
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21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
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21.11.2017 | Health and Medicine