News

There are always news to report: the participating teams of the SFB/TRR 289 are looking for collaborators and study participants, deliver talks, and publish their results. You can take part in the scientific as well as public discourse. From open study calls and reports in the media to scientific publications - here you can discover what is currently happening at the Collaborative Research Center "Treatment Expectation".

Applications now open for ECR Summer School 2023

Applications now open for ECR Summer School 2023

SIPS - ECR Summer School

How do we learn and unlearn pain?

How do we learn and unlearn pain?

 

Three early career researchers from the Department of Neurology at the University Medical Center Essen received awards for pain research. The three innovative projects focus on expectancy and learning mechanisms in the perception and processing of pain, both in healthy individuals and in patients. Congratulations to Frederik Schlitt* for the 2nd prize in the category Clinical Research on his work in pain-related learning mechanisms in patients with chronic back pain. Dr. Laura Ricarda Lanters** accepted the 2nd prize in the Basic Research category for her work on the specificity of conditioned nocebo effects in visceral interoceptive pain. The prizes were awarded by the German Pain Society and the donor Grünenthal GmbH. Livia Asan*** can be excited the 1st place of the Young Investigator Award for Pain. She wants to investigate how adverse effects after lumbar puncture can be avoided.

"We are very proud that this year scientists from the University Medical Center Essen were represented in every category of the highest award for pain research in Germany. Their work confirms the success of the interdisciplinary, cross-project collaboration in the Translational Pain Research Unit at the Center for Translational Neuro- and Behavioral Sciences," said Prof. Ulrike Bingel, head of the Center for University Pain Medicine and spokesperson of the SFB/TRR 289 Treatment Expectation.

*Frederik Schlitt, Department of Neurology, Center for Translational Neuro- and Behavioral Sciences (C-TNBS), University Medical Center Essen, received the 2nd prize in the Clinical Research category for his research on pain-related learning mechanisms in chronic back pain. Pain-related learning mechanisms seem to play a key role in the development and maintenance of chronic pain. Initial studies have been able to show impairments in pain-related learning in patients with chronic pain. However, the results are not consistent. Frederik Schlitt investigated pain-related learning and unlearning of visual cues that announced a painful heat stimulus or predicted its absence - in patients with nonspecific chronic back pain and healthy subjects. In patients with chronic back pain, reduced pain-related learning was observed both from cue stimuli that announced a heat pain stimulus and from those cue stimuli that predicted its absence. The data provide preliminary evidence for more diminished learning of cue stimuli that announce a heat pain stimulus with increasing clinical pain duration. Given the high prevalence of chronic low back pain in the general population, as well as the challenges that arise in its treatment, this work highlights the high clinical relevance of altered pain-related learning in this patient population. If the ability to discriminate between cues that announce a pain stimulus and cues that predict its absence is impaired, this may lead to ambiguity in the emotional appraisal of these stimuli and, subsequently, to overprotective behavior, which could contribute to the development and maintenance of chronic pain. The project was funded by the Collaborative Research Center 1280 "Extinction Learning".

**Dr. Laura Ricarda Lanters, Department of Neurology, Associate of the Translational Pain Research Unit led by Prof. Dr. Ulrike Bingel, demonstrated the relevance and specificity of visceral pain across methods in her work. In two consecutive but independently conducted fMRI studies, the team was able to show that interoceptive visceral stimuli are rated as more aversive compared to different exteroceptive stimuli by healthy subjects, even if both stimuli were perceived intraindividually as initially comparably unpleasant or painful. In both studies, cue stimuli announcing interoceptive visceral stimuli were found to be prioritized for learning, storage, and recall in healthy subjects compared with exteroceptive cue stimuli, accompanied by greater involvement of the insula and cingulate cortex for the visceral modality. The prioritization of learning processes with respect to negative expectation of clinically-relevant interoceptive compared to exteroceptive stimuli represents an addition to the understanding of conditioned nocebo effects for the development and maintenance of chronic pain and thus has high relevance for further research and, prospectively, therapy of functional and inflammatory diseases along the brain-gut axis. "In our understanding, the studies presented in the submitted work have a particular clinical validity due to the pain models used - e.g., rectal distensions for the visceral stimuli versus thermal stimuli on the skin- and thus, from a translational perspective, probably represent an interface between basic research conducted in healthy subjects and clinically oriented research with the aim of deepening the understanding of the underlying mechanisms of visceral pain along the brain-gut axis," explains Dr. Lanters. The work originated as a collaboration between two projects in the SFB 1280 "Extinction Learning" under the project leadership of Prof. Sigrid Elsenbruch (A10) and Prof. Harald Engler (A12) at the Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Immunology in close collaboration with the Department of Neurology, Translational Pain Research Unit and the Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology and Neuroradiology, which are united under the umbrella of the C-TNBS.

*** Livia Asan, assistant physician and researcher at the Department of Neurology and C-TNBS, Unversitätsmedizin Essen, received the German Pain Society's Young Investigator Award for Pain (1st place). The award-winning project aims to investigate how adverse effects following lumbar puncture can be avoided. During lumbar puncture, a few milliliters of nerve fluid are extracted from the spinal canal and then analyzed. Nerve water analysis has a high value in neurological diagnostics for a wide range of diseases and is therefore performed in many of our patients. Although lumbar puncture is a very safe and low-risk procedure, patients sometimes complain of mostly harmless but nonetheless limiting side effects such as headache. There has been evidence in previous studies that the rate of post-puncture headache is significantly dependent on prior education in this regard. Ms. Asan would now like to test whether some of these complaints can be reduced by optimizing the positive design of the physician's risk information.

Back Pain – New Patient Event on July 21st 2022

Back Pain – New Patient Event on July 21st 2022

This month, we will be addressing the topic of back pain in the Patient Forum on Neurology. Prof. Dr. Ulrike Bingel, Head of University Pain Medicine, and her team of experts invite you to join them on July 21 from 5:30 pm.

This time, patients, relatives and interested parties can find out about topics such as "The cross with the cross - widespread disease chronic back pain", "Why movement is so important and there is no wrong movement in chronic back pain" and "The interaction of pain and psyche".

Of course, there will be plenty of time for questions this time as well.

You can find the link to the registration Azum Zoom-Meeting here or send an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Our new animated film: How do expectations influence my health?

Our new animated film: How do expectations influence my health?

Mr. Schmidt has been suffering from strong back pain for a long time and has almost given up hope of relief after several attempts at therapy. Then his neighbor tells him about a new doctor and a very good therapy offer. This had helped her husband wonderfully. Mr. Schmidt is hopeful.

 

 And indeed, the treatment helps him, too. But the success is not only based on the professional individual treatment, but also on Mr. Schmidt's positive expectations. He simply believed that he could be helped after all.

But how can such a positive expectation promote the success of the therapy? What happens in the brain and body? Our new film from the Collaborative Research Center SFB/TRR289 explains this in an understandable and competent way.

 

New Publication: Even when you know it is a placebo, you experience less sadness: First evidence from an experimental open-label placebo investigation

New Publication: Even when you know it is a placebo, you experience less sadness: First evidence from an experimental open-label placebo investigation

A research group associated with the SFB/TRR 289 investigated the effects of placebos in the area of sadness.

The result of the study was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders on May 1, 2022,under the title "Even when you know it is a placebo, you experience less sadness: First evidence from an experimental open-label placebo investigation".

You can read the full publication on ScienceDirect.

Virtual Webinar Series „Treatment Expectation“ 2022 for Scientists – Register now!

Virtual Webinar Series „Treatment Expectation“ 2022 for Scientists – Register now!

Accompanying the SFB/TRR289, we also offer in 2022 a webinar series with scientific lectures by internationally renowned researchers.

All lectures will be given online and participation is free. The talks are geared towards a scientific audience and will be held in English.

The full program can be downloaded here.

If you would like to attend individual webinars or the full program, please register at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
We would be very pleased if you could write a few words about your scientific background and why you would like to attend the webinars.

If you have any questions or requests, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +49 201 723-5203 (Detlef Pucher).

New Publication: Impact of a 12-week open-label placebo treatment on headache days in episodic and chronic migraine: a study protocol for a parallel-group, multicentre, randomised controlled trial

New Publication: Impact of a 12-week open-label placebo treatment on headache days in episodic and chronic migraine: a study protocol for a parallel-group, multicentre, randomised controlled trial

Members of the SFB/TRR 289 have published a research paper about the Impact of a 12-week open-label placebo treatment on headache days in episodic and chronic migraine. The first authors Dr. Katharina Schmidt and Dr. Julian Kleine-Borgmann belong to the project team of Prof. Ulrike Bingel in Essen.

The publication can be downloaded here or read directly on the BMJ Open site.

SIPS Best Poster - Third Place

SIPS Best Poster - Third Place

Effects of open-label placebo on pain and functional disability in patients with chronic back pain: A 3-year follow-up study

Lecture by Prof. Ulrike Bingel, IASP 2021 VIRTUAL WORLD CONGRESS ON PAIN, June 16th at 10:30 a.m.

Lecture by Prof. Ulrike Bingel, IASP 2021 VIRTUAL WORLD CONGRESS ON PAIN, June 16th at 10:30 a.m.

How Do Expectations Influence Treatment Outcome?

Patients’ expectations are important modulators of pain and analgesic treatment outcomes. As best illustrated in experimental and clinical placebo studies, an individual’s expectation can substantially shape the perception and neural processing of acute and chronic pain. Treatment expectation is not only the key determinant of placebo analgesia, but is also increasingly recognized to modulate the efficacy and tolerability of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for pain and other acute and chronic conditions.
Recent insights into the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms underlying the clinically relevant effects of treatment expectations call for their systematic integration and utilization into standard treatment regiments. Such strategy promises to optimize analgesic treatment outcomes and to prevent or reduce the burden of unwanted side effects and misuse of analgesics, particularly of opioids. In this lecture Prof. Ulrike Bingel highlights current concepts, recent achievements but also challenges and key open research questions that need be addressed to improve (analgesic) treatment outcomes in a personalized manner and to use our knowledge to inform the designing and outcome interpretation of clinical trials.

Learning objective 1 :
be aware of the impact of expectation on (analgesic) treatment outcomes.

Learning objective 2 :
define key psychological and neurobiological mechanisms underlyind expectation effects.

Learning objective 3 :
outline implications for clinical routine and clinical trials as well as key-open questions and challenges.

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If you are interested in the above exciting topic, watch the full lecture of Prof. Ulrike Bingel on June 16th at 10:30 a.m. EST at IASP 2021 VIRTUAL WORLD CONGRESS ON PAIN.

The full program of the event can be viewed here.

To view the above lecture or the full program, you must register here.

 

 

New Publication: Informing About the Nocebo Effect Affects Patients’ Need for Information About Antidepressants - An Experimental Online Study

New Publication: Informing About the Nocebo Effect Affects Patients’ Need for Information About Antidepressants - An Experimental Online Study

Prof. Yvonne Nestoriuc, one Leader of the project A15, has published a new paper about the hypothesis, that understanding patients's informational needs and adapting drug-related information are the prerequisites for a contextualized informed consent. Current information practices might rather harm by inducing nocebo effects.

You can read the complete publication on frontiers in Psychiatry or download it here.

Member of the SFB wins first place in the lecture series "Clinical Studies and Health Services Research"

Member of the SFB wins first place in the lecture series "Clinical Studies and Health Services Research"

The formation and fulfillment of expectations play an important role in positive subjective treatment outcomes. Julia Stuhlreyer (Project Regine Klinger, A13) discovered that patients receiving a combination of a digital health app and patient-oriented physician visits postoperatively were more likely to rate their treatment as successful, based on their stated preoperative treatment expectations. This also leads to significant reduced postoperative pain and opioid consumption.

More information about DGAI is available here.

New Publication: Fear of Adverse Effects and COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: Recommendations of the Treatment Expectation Expert Group

New Publication: Fear of Adverse Effects and COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: Recommendations of the Treatment Expectation Expert Group

Prof. Winfried Rief has studied the fear towards Covid-19 vaccinations and the influence of our society.

The full result of his reflections on this topic can be downloaded here or read directly on the JAMA website.

Virtual Webinar Series „Treatment Expectation“ 2021 for Scientists – Register now!

Virtual Webinar Series „Treatment Expectation“ 2021 for Scientists – Register now!

Accompanying the SFB/TRR289, we offer a webinar series with scientific lectures by internationally renowned researchers.

All lectures will be given online and participation is free. The talks are geared towards a scientific audience and will be held in English.

Special Open Science Discussion with Tom Beckers, May 21st at 10 a.m.

Special Open Science Discussion with Tom Beckers, May 21st at 10 a.m.

This virtual lecture incorporates a discussion on improving research transparency and robustness by exploring the necessity of preregistrations and registered reports.

New Publication: Meta-analysis of neural systems underlying placebo analgesia from individual participant fMRI data

New Publication: Meta-analysis of neural systems underlying placebo analgesia from individual participant fMRI data

New study gives the most detailed look yet at the neuroscience of placebo effects, which was published by Prof. Ulrike Bingel and Dr. Tamas Spisak from our project Z03.

New Publication: The temporal and spectral characteristics of expectations and prediction errors in pain and thermoception

New Publication: The temporal and spectral characteristics of expectations and prediction errors in pain and thermoception

eLive has published a research paper about the temporal and spectral characteristics of expectations and prediction errors in pain and thermoception. The first author Andreas Strube works as a PhD Student closely with the project leaders Prof. Christian Büchel and Prof. Michael Rose from the SFB/TRR 289.

The publication can be downloaded here or read directly on the eLife site.

New Publication: Effects of open-label placebos on test performance and psychological well-being in healthy medical students: a randomized controlled trial

New Publication: Effects of open-label placebos on test performance and psychological well-being in healthy medical students: a randomized controlled trial

Scientific Reports has recently published our research about the impact of Open-Label Placebos on test performance and well-being in acutely stressed students. Dr. Julian Kleine-Borgmann is corresponding author and happy to answer comments!

Collaborative Research Center „Treatment Expectation“ receives funding

Collaborative Research Center „Treatment Expectation“ receives funding

The CRC/TRR 289 receives one of the highly competitive grants from the German Research Foundation (DFG).