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Conditioned compensatory response to alcohol placebo in humans

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An autonomic response opposite in direction to the effect of alcohol (i.e., a conditioned compensatory response) was found in normal social drinkers given alcohol placebo. Seven males received placebo in a distinctive drinking room after receiving vodka and tonic in two sessions in the same room; seven more males received distilled water in three sessions in that room. The response to placebo, consisting of decreased pulse transit time and finger skin temperature, was antagonistic to alcohol. The results support the application of the classical conditioning model of alcoholism to humans.

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Newlin, D.B. Conditioned compensatory response to alcohol placebo in humans. Psychopharmacologia 88, 247–251 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00652249

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Key words

  • Alcohol
  • Placebo
  • Conditioning
  • Pulse transit time
  • Skin temperature
  • Alcoholism