Researcher Steven Pashko to Present at CNS Summit 2015

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The annual CNS Summit will be held October 8-11 in Boca Raton, Florida. Researcher Steven Pashko will present a potential new way to identify people who benefit from placebos through their shifting from thoughts to perceptions.

Steven Pashko

Placebo response may relate to the 'avatar effect" in which our thoughts can be overridden by our sense.

During the CNS Summit October 8-11, Steven Pashko, PhD will be presenting, “Predicting Placebo Responders Through Frame of Reference Shifts,” about potentially identifying people who benefit from placebos through their shifting from thoughts to perceptions. This recent scientific theory suggests that shifting away from thinking about one’s health and just experiencing it may be enough to ease symptoms and cause the placebo response. The proposed method to test patients that can do this has already been submitted for global patenting. It is expected to help researchers understand the real effectiveness of a drug and its effect when the influence of the placebo has been subtracted.

“The test identifies those who more easily and completely switch between living in their head full of thoughts to living oriented to sensory-perceptual experiences,” says Pashko. “Grounded in behavioral economics theory and cognitive psychology, the test challenges everyone at a most fundamental level—whether our thoughts or our sense-perceptions dominate our view of the world. In 2008, researchers in Sweden showed that by conflicting the senses through virtual reality techniques involving a head-mounted video display and cameras the self-identity of study participants shifted to a life-sized, retail store mannequin. Video gamers actually seek out this ‘avatar effect,’ that our thoughts can be overridden by our senses. It allows them to feel as if they were right in the middle of the action. But it also directly relates to the relief of health symptoms.”

Pashko continues, “By modifying the virtual reality experiment, making it more difficult for our most strongly held thoughts to be overridden, people who more readily accept their sensory-perceptual experiences can be identified. According to the theory, these ‘super-shifters’ feel better despite taking pills with no active ingredient (placebos) because they can more easily stop adding the misery of thoughts (like thinking they are unable to cope with pain) to the simple experience of their health condition (pain alone). It’s also suggested that everyone can gain a bit of relief when they also make this shift for themselves.”

For more information: The patent application (US 14/351,561) can be found at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Additional implications related to improving well-being can be found in the scientific literature:

Pashko, S. (2014). Conceptual versus perceptual information processing: Implications for subjective reporting. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, 7(4), 219–226.

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