Induced sickness symptoms change the behaviour of a rat. ©Huw Jones/Alamy stock photo
What impact do negative experiences have on the potential side effects of a treatment?
Patients undergoing immunotherapy or chemotherapy often develop symptoms such as anxiety, depression or fatigue as side effects. These become more intense the longer the treatment lasts, and can be induced simply by entering the hospital, even before the medication is administered. How exactly is this learned development of symptoms triggered by negative treatment expectations? This project uses an animal model to investigate the neurobiological mechanisms, with the long-term objective of improving the efficiency and tolerability of treatments.
Neurobiological mechanisms of negative treatment expectations in an animal model for endotoxin-induced sickness behaviour
This project investigates the neurobiological mechanisms of negative expectation effects in an animal model for learned sickness behaviour. The effects of a previous negative treatment experience on the intensity of sickness symptoms will be analysed at behavioural, physiological and neural level. The particular importance of the central fear network and insula for the initiation and maintenance of negative expectation effects will be investigated through chemogenetic inhibition of neural activity in these areas of the brain.
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