The power of something that is ‘just’ in ones mind

The ability to respond to a placebo is something that many believe is a mark of gullibility and something that others may be capable of — certainly not oneself.

A humorous and very illustrative example of this bias — and an example of just how unconsciously powerful a placebo can be — comes from a Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon and placebo researcher (James Campbell), who tells of a mentor’s anecdote that was a seminal influence on Campbell’s attitude toward placebos… (more)


How could a placebo for a painkiller actually kill pain?

The ‘drama’ — the seemingly magical disappearance of pain — that occurred in the body of the surgeon-patient in the post just above this has two separate, invisible but dramatic acts: the expectation of relief and the experience of it.

Act 1: Anticipation or expectation

The “stars” of Act 1 are the surgeon’s prefrontal cortex (PFC), PFC_3d which orchestrates thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals, and the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC)

Anterior Cingulate Cortex

Anterior Cingulate Cortex

which is involved in processing emotion and motivation…. (more)


Parkinson’s Disease: Placebos may be effective for pain, but can they work on a really serious illness?

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that often impairs the sufferer’s ability to move, talk, and to do many other things that use big or small muscles in the body. It results from the brain having too little of the chemical that’s necessary for sending commands to the rest of the body to move.

In one study [3], a placebo for a standard Parkinson’s treatment resulted in an increase in physical agility in some of the Parkinson’s patients that was comparable in magnitude to a therapeutic dose of the standard treatment. more…



Alzheimer’s and Capgras: What can be done about the impostors surrounding my mother?

One of the most fascinating ‘how the mind works’ curiosities is the way that our minds sense that someone is an impostor.

On the 3rd day of a recent visit to my Alzheimer’s mother and caregiving father, a casual dinner table conversation turned to the subject of their mothers, and I commented that I couldn’t remember what their mothers’ maiden names were. My father told me his mother’s and then gently helped mother recall her mother’s. I said “Oh, OK,” and went on eating, until my mother very politely turned to me and said, ” And what is your mother’s maiden name?”(more…)
question mark w person


Is there an environmental factor in Alzheimer’s Disease?

“Genes load the gun and environment pulls the trigger.” Unfortunately, in the case of Alzheimer’s, geneticists are on only just beginning to piece together how the gun is loaded, and they are even less certain where the trigger is. But what they have found out about possible triggers has such  a familiar enough ring to it — since many of the factors have already been established in other diseases — that the findings make for a fascinating story. (more….)


Could Alzheimer’s be influenced by something so ordinary as chronic stress?

According to the August 2008 Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews there is a significant probability of that. The issue has a lengthy summary of over 12 years of research by many different labs that points to a clear link between stress, particularly in early development, and an increase in the risk of Alzheimer’s [Pardon 2008] — a neurotoxic disease that afflicts almost half of the US population (in particular) by age 85 and “some recent studies estimate that it is now the fourth most common cause of death in the developed world” [Ryman 2006]. The thrust of this article is that chronic stress increases sensitivity to stress and increases vulnerability to Alzheimer’s as well.


About the creator of this blog