The placebo effect – Study shows rats and humans have similar reactions to placebos

By Emily Miller

Rats and humans have at least one thing in common: They both react the same way to a placebo, according to a new UF study.

“That was the big finding — that the animals that expected pain relief actually got pain relief when you gave them an inert substance,” said co-author John Neubert, D.D.S., Ph.D., a pain specialist and an associate professor with the UF College of Dentistry department of orthodontics. “It helps validate our model that what we do in the rats, we believe, is a good representation of what’s being seen in humans.”

The investigation of placebo effects might lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets in the brain and of novel treatment strategies for a variety of health conditions.

For this study researchers looked at placebo responses in reference to pain and pain relief by evaluating how an animal responds when it “thinks” it’s getting a pain reliever.

For the full story, click here for the December 2012/January 2013 issue of the UF Health Science Center The Post.