The field grew from the work of Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov and his classical conditioning model. Pavlov was able to condition dogs to salivate when they heard the ring of a bell by ringing a bell when they were given food. Eventually, they came to automatically associate the sound of the bell with the act of eating, so that when the food was no longer given, the sound of the bell would automatically cause them to salivate.
With PNI, Russian researchers conducted a series of experiments that showed that the body’s other systems may be altered by conditioning as well. Although their research does not live up to today’s rigorous standards, they were able to cause immunologic reactions in animals in much the same way that Pavlov created salivation in his dogs. American researchers like Ader took the research further in the United States, and we now know for certain that immune responses can be enhanced or suppressed with a wide variety of conditioned cues. We also have a deeper understanding of the placebo effect—some researchers are beginning to believe that it might be a conditioned response as well.
Psychoneuroimmunology research sheds a great deal of light many aspects of wellness, and provides important research on stress. PNI studies have found may correlations between life events and health effects. As PNI has gained greater acceptance in the scientific community, the finding that emotional states can affect immunity has been an important one, and research in this area helps us to gain a clearer understanding of stress and its effects on health. We are gaining a clearer understanding of the links between lifestyle and personality factors and immunity as research continues. The following resources include studies that exemplify what we have learned through the field of PNI.
- Stress and Health Research
Here are some studies that have been conducted so far, and supply us with important information on the link between stress and health.
- Childhood Poverty, Cancer, and Stress: Research On Health
How do childhood factors affect adult health? This interesting group of studies provides some clues.
- Stress and Health
Learn more about how stress can affect your body, and what you can do to cope.
- Stress And Health Self-Assessment
Are you falling prey to common health consequences and unhealthy behaviors associated with too much stress? Assess yourself and see.
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Source: Freeman, L. W. (2009). Mosby’s complementary and alternative medicine. (3 ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.