Conditioning: Learned placebo effect

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Conditioning: Learned placebo effect
Conditioning: Learned placebo effect

Learned Placebo Effect

The effect of medication can be trained on the body. In this way, physicians are trying to reduce the dose of drugs – and to reduce undesirable side effects and costs.

In 2002, the Essen University Hospital resembled a food laboratory at times. Scientists had undertaken an unusual project there: They created a new drink. For weeks they worked on the perfect taste, appearance and mouthfeel. They flew to the United States for advice from colleagues, presented different concoctions to students for evaluation, discarded recipes and stirred up new ones. Why all that? For an experiment, the team led by psychologist Manfred Schedlowski needed a drink that the subjects had never tasted or seen before. The result was a green colored strawberry milk with a lavender aroma.

Schedlowski and his colleagues study classical conditioning. You would like to use the mechanism therapeutically, which the Russian doctor Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936) discovered at the beginning of the 20th century. At the time, during his research on the digestive system, he had discovered that in dogs kept in kennels, even the steps of the owner triggered drooling, even though there was no food in sight. To get to the bottom of the phenomenon, he designed an experiment that would go down in history.

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