Placebo – human brain does wonders

I am reading the Psychologist magazine from May and the article “The Placebo Effect” by Christian Jarrett truly astonished me.

I always knew about the Placebo Effect but I had no idea the extent of it.

Apparently there is placebo brain surgery. Some patients with Parkinson’s Disease underwent it. They were told that they would receive injection of stem cells but in reality, they did not. Surprisingly, their symptoms improved more than those who actually received the stem cell treatment but did not think they had.

If this is not crazy, I don’t know what is.

There was also a finding on placebo sleep.

The researchers gave false feedback on how much REM sleep people had and those who received positive feedback actually performed better on language and arithmetic tests afterwards.

Believing that you slept well may help you perform better on tests regardless of the amount and quality of your actual sleep (!!!!!!!)

In another study conducted by Octavia Zahrt and Alia Crum, people who believe that they exercise more than other people their age tend to live longer. After controlling for physical activity, age, BMI, chronic illnesses and other factors, they found that people who believed that they were less active than their peers were up to 71% more likely to die earlier than those who believed that they were more active.

This reminds me of the danger of nocebo effects – the opposite of placebo effects.

If you believe in negative outcomes, you are more likely to experience them.

Researchers found that nocebo effect is about as powerful as placebo effect.

They also found that simply showing the word “placebo” can create placebo effects. One of the reasons is because people may become more aware and convinced of the placebo effects so when they see the term, they expect the effects to work. As a result, some researchers suggested getting rid of this term completely when informing participants in a trial or study.

It is mad how our human brain works.

If believing that you exercise more can help longevity,

imagine believing that you are the greatest human being in the world 😉



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