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Posts Tagged ‘Cause of Placebo Effect’

placebo_The Los Angeles Times (10/15, Kaplan) “Booster Shots” blog reported, “Scientists like to say the placebo effect is all in your head. Turns out, it’s actually in your spinal cord.” Researchers in Germany reached that conclusion after convincing “15 men to test a ‘lidocaine cream’ that was strong enough to work as a local anesthetic.” That ointment was applied inside a green box inked onto their forearms, while a “control cream” was rubbed inside a red box. “After waiting 10 minutes for the ‘lidocaine’ to take effect, they applied a hot stimulus to one of the squares and kept it there for 20 seconds. Then they tested the other square.”  In short, the men “experienced the placebo effect, just as the researchers had planned,” WebMD (10/15, Hitti) noted. “MRI scans taken during the tests showed less activity in the dorsal horn of the men’s spinal cords, which is involved in sensory perception, when their arms had been treated with the fake painkiller cream. Exactly how that happened isn’t clear.” But the paper in Science “may open up ‘new avenues’ for assessing the efficacy and action of new pain treatments.” The UK’s Press Association (10/16) also covers the story.

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